Congressional Chamber hearing held to discuss impact of COVID on arts industry – CBS New York

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NEW YORK (CBS New York) – There was a dramatic call on Wednesday to help arts and culture industries across the country as the pandemic continues to impact millions of artists.

Some people from the tri-state area testified before a congressional committee.

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From ballet to Broadway, COVID has closed the curtains on nearly every stage.

Nearly three years into the pandemic, Carson Elrod is one of 5.2 million creative workers nationwide still struggling to find work.

“As part of our bi-weekly COVID protocols, myself and three other people from the cast and crew tested positive, and the theater had to close the show, so we closed and I found myself unemployed for the day. the next day,” he said.

The New York-based actor co-founded Arts Workers United, advocating for an industry that lost $150 billion in sales in the first months of the pandemic.

On Wednesday, the organization testified at a congressional hearing, the first in history to draw attention to the creative economy as a whole and its impact on communities.

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“In one month, we fired 500. Those 500 resulted in 5,000 in our city and 20,000 across the region,” said Nataki Garret of Oregon Shakespeare Theater.

During the virtual audience, speakers implored members of the small business committee to extend unemployment for creative workers, create an arts and culture secretariat, and support universal arts education in schools.

Representatives listened intently.

“The wounds of the pandemic inflicted on the arts economy are deep and painful and potentially lasting,” said Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota.

Arts workers say investing in their industry lifts more than just the economy.

“On the other side of the plague, there was the Renaissance. On the other side of the 1918 flu were the Roaring Twenties. So Congress really has an opportunity here,” Elrod said.

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An opportunity to invest in a sector that workers hope will lead the country into another era of rebirth.

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