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:
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.
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.
Expand the universal charitable deduction provision in the CARES Act by removing the $300 cap.
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.
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
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
Mantua Historical Society
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
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