The theatre community at large rallied behind a potential, then likely, victory for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as Election Day 2020 turned into Election Week. As news outlets officially made the call November 7, a number of arts organizations, unions, and advocacy coalitions weighed in, conveying both celebration and a rallying cry for continued support for arts relief in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
See below what these groups had to say as the election drew to a close.
“Joe Biden will be the most consequential president for the arts industry in a generation,” said Actors' Equity Association Executive Director Mary McColl. “At a time when live entertainment is still largely dark because of the coronavirus, we will finally have a partner in the White House who will create a national strategy to bring the pandemic under control and put everyone in the arts back to work. Until then, we need to reinstate pandemic unemployment so that displaced workers can pay their bills, increase arts funding and finally pass a COBRA subsidy to make health insurance affordable as unemployment stretches on.”
“We mobilized to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at a desperate time for the theatre and everyone who works in the arts,” added Equity President Kate Shindle. “I am so moved by the dedication of our actors and stage managers. They volunteered so much time and energy to electing a president who cares about workers every single day, and will be laser focused on getting us safely back to work in the wake of this unprecedented pandemic and months-long shutdown.”
But between now and January – and beyond the inauguration – there's still work to do. We need Congress to reinstate pandemic unemployment so that displaced workers can pay their bills. https://t.co/1q6rniXwO7 pic.twitter.com/QVIxPC5pxJ
— Actors' Equity (@ActorsEquity) November 7, 2020
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees asserted its #UnionStrong support for the President-elect, adding, "We should never elect another scab into office ever again."
Know what PA, GA, and NV have in common? Strong and powerful IATSE locals.
From working behind the scenes as poll workers, to center stage as organizers and release staff, our members made the difference.https://t.co/YmzafYU6tu
— IATSE (@IATSE) November 7, 2020
The Stage Directors and Choreographers Society similarly shared a hopeful outlook for fellow unions under a new presidency. "SDC Members were unwavering in their commitment to the Biden-Harris ticket, and we are now poised to give that same support to the President-elect and Vice President-elect during the transition and beyond," said executive director Laura Penn. "Theatre artists, along with our colleagues in film, TV, and the broader cultural community, can play a critical role in uniting citizens. The Biden-Harris administration will address the pandemic and the resulting economic devastation, and ensure a comprehensive health care policy, a strong education system, and a more racially and socially just country. SDC will work in unity, purpose, and action to support the new administration."
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS echoed a line from Tony Kushner's Angels in America with a statement from Executive Director Tom Viola.
From Executive Director Tom Viola: “Today, there is finally a hard-won reason for joy and hopeful celebration. After four years of the denigration of empathy and compassion, there is change on the horizon.” pic.twitter.com/YjJ0ud7GSZ
— Broadway Cares (@BCEFA) November 7, 2020
The #ArtsHero campaign used the same Angels in America-based credo in their statement, promising to continue to fight for the Arts & Culture sector.
— Be An #ArtsHero (@BeAnArtsHero) November 8, 2020
Charles Segars, founder of Stand for the Arts and CEO of Ovation TV, outlined the impact the arts have on the economy and the effects a new administration can have:
"As we look to new leadership in the White House, all Americans, regardless of political party, are reeling from job loss and economic insecurity from a pandemic whose toll only continues to grow. Around 2.7 million of those still unemployed are arts workers, in red states and blue states alike, yet the arts and culture sector has been largely left out of stimulus talks. Joe Biden understands the unifying power of the arts as well as their economic value, a massive $877 billion dollar industry that drives 4.5% of our nation’s GDP every year. From community theatre groups to local symphony musicians, to stage crews, set builders, electricians and engineers, these Americans have little hope of returning to their livelihoods for months to come, when performance venues and concert halls may be able to safely re-open. Congress must get back to work to deliver relief. Without federal aid for the arts and culture scenes that power local restaurants and tourism, our entire economy will be slower to recover. The arts have the power to bring together and heal a deeply divided nation like ours, but only if the industry survives. I am optimistic that in a Biden administration, the arts and culture sector will be given the weight it deserves. It is past time for the federal government to treat the arts in a way that reflects their value to our country."
Americans for the Arts, the non-profit organization behind the ArtsVote campaign, noted that the president- and vice president-elect have a history of supporting the arts. Says President and CEO Robert L. Lynch: "We look forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration to support both the nonprofit arts community as well as independent artists working in the growing gig economy... Our nation needs to capitalize on the abundance of under-employed yet talented creative and racially underrepresented workers in America to aid in the recovery, to unify, and to heal our nation’s communities and economy."
Tony winner, Actors Fund Chair, and Black Theatre United Co-Founder Brian Stokes Mitchell (also an ArtsVote advocate) shared the view from his apartment (where he's frequently sung the anthemic "The Impossible Dream" to honor essential workers) as crowds cheered for a USPS truck—an unexpected but critical symbol of voter mobilization this year.