July 13 Policy Update

Boston Phase 3 Reopening
On July 10, Mayor Marty Walsh announced that Boston would begin Phase 3 of the Gov. Baker’s reopening plan on July 13. Boston’s step forward follows the rest of the state’s advancement to Phase 3 on July 6. The City of Boston has released industry-specific guidelines for Step One of Phase 3, most of which are largely in line with statewide guidelines.

Federal Nonprofit Unemployment Aid
On July 8, the US Senate unanimously passed the Protecting Nonprofits from Catastrophic Cash Flow Strain Act. The legislation helps alleviate the financial burden of unemployment costs on nonprofits. The CARES Act states that the federal government will cover 50% of nonprofits’ unemployment coasts; however, guidance from the Department of Labor in April stated that nonprofits had to pay 100% of unemployment costs before being reimbursed later. The full upfront cost would be overwhelming for many nonprofits, especially after drastic losses in revenue due to the pandemic. This act allows nonprofits to pay 50% of unemployment costs upfront instead of incurring 100% of costs then waiting to be reimbursed by the federal government. 

Recovery Committee Hearing
On July 8, the Commonwealth Resilience and Recovery Special Committee held a hearing to provide an update on the state revenue picture and discuss legislative proposals related to employee benefits and workforce issues. The hearing started with an overview of the state’s revenue hit from COVID-19. Representatives stressed that revenue losses will be ongoing, but we will have to wait to have a full picture of the Commonwealth’s revenue position. Chairman Mark Cusack noted that the “X-factor” of the state revenue condition is federal government aid.

The committee also discussed legislation related to the workforce’s recovery, including H4749, which would provide worker compensation for medical workers, and H4700, which would provide paid sick time for all employees. Both bills have garnered some support, but legislators are concerned with the potential financial costs of each.

MASSCreative and Mass Cultural Council Senate Hearing Testimony
On July 15 at 11am, MASSCreative and the Mass Cultural Council will testifying at the Senate Listening Session on State’s Reopening: Tourism, Arts, Culture & Small Businesses to provide insight on COVID-19’s impacts on the arts and cultural community. Learn more about the hearing and the link to watch

Protecting Arts Education
The Commonwealth has incurred a heavy loss of revenue as a result of the pandemic. These losses have resulted in major budget shortfalls for districts across Massachusetts. When schools are forced to reduce costs, arts education is often most vulnerable.

At MASSCreative, we believe in the importance of a well-rounded education—which includes arts education—and will fight to make sure it is accessible to all students. In an effort to identify the arts education programs that most need our help, we sent out a survey to gather information about district funding plans that put art education at risk. We encourage you to fill out the survey with any pertinent information, and to email your state legislators in support of education funding.

Supporting the Creative Community
While the Commonwealth continues to reopen and recover, the challenges that face the arts and cultural community remain pressing. Legislators must understand the importance of our sector, as well as the magnitude of our losses from COVID-19, when making decisions in this critical time. Please send an email encouraging your state legislator to include the arts and cultural sector in state recovery efforts.

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Community Impact

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