In the letter addressed to leaders of the U.S. House and Senate, Peduto expressed his support for the arts and culture industry and creative workers in Pittsburgh and beyond. The letter is in regards to H.R. 6800, a $3 trillion relief bill passed by the House on Friday as the virus continues to keep businesses closed and Americans out of work. If approved by the Senate, it would surpass the initial $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act relief package passed in March.
Peduto stressed the economic impact of the local arts sector accounting for 32,000 jobs and $641 million in household income, as well as $115 million in tax revenue in the region, according to a study by the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council.
Mayor @billpeduto has issued a letter to to Congressional leadership urging them to provide support for the arts in the next relief package.#Pittsburgh’s arts industry is responsible for 32,000 jobs & $641M in household income. They are a critical piece of our city. pic.twitter.com/5XTPMpvjtQ— Office of the Mayor (@TheNextPGH) May 19, 2020
“The impact of arts and culture also transcends economics; it brings people from diverse communities together, provides beauty in our neighborhoods and public spaces, and engages our young residents and helps to hone new skills,” Peduto writes. “In order for neighborhoods in cities like Pittsburgh to fully heal from this global pandemic, we must ensure that the arts and culture sector can thrive again.”
Peduto listed a number of relief programs he believes should be funded in order to sustain arts organizations and working artists suffering from the crisis. These include the extension of unemployment and health insurance benefits, and of the Small Business Assistance and Paycheck Protection programs, as well as additional funding for the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Some Democrats in Congress opposed the relief bill, including Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Mt. Lebanon) who believes it will not generate enough support to pass in the Senate, where it has been criticized by Republicans, some of whom have publicly vowed that it will not be voted through.
“People in Western Pennsylvania and all over the country have sacrificed a lot during this crisis,” says Lamb in a press release. “They expect us to put politics aside, work together, and focus on defeating the coronavirus. This bill is not focused, it was rushed to a vote too fast, and it doesn’t help us accomplish that core mission.”