Dear Ohio Museum Community:

Congress is moving swiftly to consider and prepare a Phase 4 economic relief package in response to the COVID-19 crisis and the Ohio Museums Association is working to ensure the Ohio museum community is included.

As you know from experience at your museum, the nation’s museum community is facing an existential threat from the closures required to address the COVID-19 pandemic. These closures and the other disruptions to everyday operations at museums across Ohio require major responses from the United States Congress beyond those contained in legislation enacted prior to April 1.

As museums face unprecedented losses in normal revenue from admission fees, programs, retail sales, and event rentals, as well as dramatic declines in charitable contributions, we urge Congress to provide critical support for museums, detailed in the Phase 4 Ohio Museum Community Economic Relief Request Letter below. You can join this important effort by signing your organization on to this letter by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 15.   
 
To join this letter: Please email [email protected] as soon as you are able with confirmation that your organization will sign-on and the name of your organization exactly as it should be listed on the letter. The more Ohio museums that join, the stronger the message. (Please note that this sign-on request is for your museum only. Please do not circulate to your individual members.)
 

Thank you for your critical advocacy for Ohio museums!

Please respond to OMA at [email protected] by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 15 to have your museum included on the letter.

(Letter below)

Dear Ohio Congressperson:  

Thank you for your continued leadership as Ohio and its citizens, business, and local governments continue to navigate this ongoing and unprecedented crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

We write today to ask that you support a pillar of our state’s workforce, economy, and educational landscape: Ohio’s museums.  Ohio’s museum community is facing an existential threat from the closures needed to address the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring major responses from the United States Congress beyond those contained in the CARES Act and other legislation enacted prior to April 1, 2020.  

A majority of Ohio’s museums anticipate remaining closed for the foreseeable future.  As such, normal revenue from admissions fees, retail sales, and event rentals will effectively cease, and charitable contributions will decline dramatically.  Sadly, current budgetary realities have prompted museums to make difficult decisions about staffing – resulting in actual layoffs and furloughs – since personnel is the largest expense for most institutions.   

As you know, Ohio museums have a significant impact on our state’s economy.  Each day Ohio museums are closed, Ohio’s economy loses approximately $1.02 million.  This impact is felt throughout each community.  With at least one museum in each of our 88 counties, Ohio has 10.4 museums for every 100,000 residents, resulting in a $1.54 billion impact annually.  Ohio’s more than 1,300 museums constitute a robust and diverse business sector in Ohio; a sector that has been especially vulnerable to the economic impact from COVID-19.   

Despite the unprecedented economic impact on our communities, museums are needed now more than ever.  As a result of COVID-19, Ohio residents are in dire need of distance learning and education capabilities now and through the rest of 2020.  Ohio museums serve as a unique resource to deliver these educational experiences at home – even though they have closed their facilities to prevent the spread of the virus.  According to the Ohio Museums Association, with a sample of just 5 of Ohio’s 1,300+ museums, 2.2 million school children benefited from museum educational programming.  Museums can provide digital experiences which enable teachers to amplify their curriculum, enable families to pursue exciting education together, and support workforce development for in-demand career pathways.  Additionally, these museums are a highly trusted source of information. Through their digital engagement initiatives (catered to the general public), they have been crucial in sustaining the physical and mental well-being of the communities in which they serve.

Support Ohio Families and Museums - Critical Education Partners:

As you work tirelessly to continually develop COVID-19 response and recovery legislation, we ask that you support education during this difficult time for our Ohio communities by including a “Supplemental Distance Education Funding” of $4 billion in the Phase 4 legislation, specifically for museums, to be administered by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) that support programs which deliver distance learning education to the public.  This provision would provide funding so museums can continue to develop educational content and share distance learning experiences to the general public.  These museums have been a true education partner by providing lesson plans, online learning opportunities, and “drop-off” learning kits to teachers and parents in areas where schools have closed, while also freely sharing virtual exhibitions and content accessible to those who are otherwise isolated.  Since museums help teach state and local curricula across many disciplines, it is crucial that museums’ digital services, virtual activities, and engagement of isolated audiences be financially considered in the education framework.  

Join the National Effort to Support Museums:

In addition, we request that you support the national effort of assisting museums by signing onto the “Support Relief and Recovery for Museums Nationwide” letter sponsored by U.S. Representatives Dingell and Upton which provides for the following provisions in Phase 4 of the federal aid package: 

  1. Extend the Paycheck Protection Program and loan forgiveness through December 2020, and make nonprofits, including museums, with greater than 500 employees eligible for loan forgiveness. Priority number one is to keep as many employees in their jobs as possible for as long as possible. Nonprofit museums, including those with greater than 500 employees, often employ large numbers of part-time and temporary employees, including students, as part of delivering their public outreach and education missions.

  2. Include supplemental funding, specifically for museums, to be administered by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to cover needs not filled by the Paycheck Protection Program. This would include assisting museums in developing and sharing distance learning content, and pandemic recovery planning and implementation. If the Paycheck Protection Program is inadequate to meet the needs of the museum community or is not renewed and forgiveness not extended for nonprofits, including museums, through December 2020, then the supplemental funding would need to include $6 billion in funding specifically for museums’ general operating support and payroll for the IMLS – Office of Museum Services.

  3. Expand the universal charitable deduction provision in the CARES Act by removing the $300 cap.

  4. Extend the CARES Act removal of the 60% limit on Adjusted Gross Income that may be deducted through charitable gifts of cash.

(To sign on to the letter by the close of business Wednesday, April 15 deadline contact Kevin Rambosk in Rep. Dingell's office at [email protected] or Alec Zender in Rep Upton's office at [email protected])

As community anchors, museums provide digital engagement which educates youth and families while bringing people together, encouraging creativity, sharing experiences, and offering a virtual space to build ideas together.  Museums make Ohio a better place to live, learn, and work – further underscoring the need to secure a stable economic future for Ohio’s museums.  

Your leadership and support of museums can protect countless Ohio jobs and provide needed educational resources for all Ohioans. 

Thank you for your consideration of this request.  

Sincerely,

Ohio Museums Association 

Center of Science and Industry (COSI)

Columbus Museum of Art

Central Ohio Military Museum

Central Ohio Fire Museum and Learning Center

McKinley Presidential Library & Museum

MoCa Cleveland

Dennison Railroad Depot Museum

Historic Schoenbrunn Village

The Museum of Clay Industry and Folk Art

Historical Society of Old Brooklyn Museum

The James A. Garfield Civil War Round Table

Preble County Historical Society

Warther Mueum

Mantua Historical Society

Akron Zoo

Taft Museum of Art

The Jefferson County Historical Association

Cincinnati Art Museum

Dayton Art Institute

Toledo Museum of Art

The Butler Institute of American Art

Wexner Center for the Arts

Wood County Historical Society

Cultural Sites Advocacy Group

The Waterville Historical Society

National Veterans Memorial and Museum

John Harris Dental Museum in Bainbridge

Pro Football Hall of Fame

Jefferson Depot Village

Western Reserve Historical Society

International Women’s Air & Space Museum

National First Ladies’ Library

Ohio History Connection

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums

The Broadview Heights Historical Society

Clark County Historical Society

Cincinnati Skirball Museum of Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion

Rickenbacker Woods Technology Museum & Historic Park

Southeast Ohio History Center

Clinton County Historical Center

The Gund Gallery at Kenyon College

Lorain Historical Society

Massillon Museum

Zanesville Museum of Art

Oberlin Heritage Center

Hilferty. Museum Planning / Exhibit Design

Lake Erie Nature & Science Center

Lakewood Historical Society

Historic Zoar Village

Fort Laurens Museum

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Cincinnati Museum Center