More than 200 theater writers – playwrights, composers, lyricists, librettists – have joined a nationwide letter writing campaign urging the incoming Biden-Harris Administration to prioritize its commitment to an arts community ravaged by Covid-19. Among other goals, many of the letters urge the administration to create a Department and Secretary of Arts & Culture.
Organized by the non-partisan grassroots coalition Be An #ArtsHero in partnership with The Dramatists Guild of America, the “Dear Mr. President and Madam Vice President” campaign asserts that “the Arts are vital to our nation’s soul and our collective humanity, as well as being an essential driver of the economy.”
Among those writing letters: Jeremy O. Harris (Slave Play), Anaïs Mitchell (Hadestown), Heidi Schreck (What The Constitution Means To Me) as well as V (formerly Eve Ensler), Craig Lucas, Theresa Rebeck, Sarah Ruhl, Marsha Norman, Lynn Ahrens, Zakiyyah Alexander, Jaclyn Backhaus, Bekah Brunstetter, Carla Ching, Vichet Chum, Paul Downs Colaizzo, Kevin Coval, Joe DiPietro, Rick Elice, Sara Gancher, Idris Goodwin, Amanda Green, Lauren Gunderson, Adam Gwon, Aleshea Harris, David Ives, Christine Toy Johnson, Rajiv Joseph, Aditi Brennan Kapil, Lisa Kron, Mike Lew, Rehana Lew Mirza, Ken Ludwig, Robert O’Hara, Matthew Paul Olmos, Jiehae Park, Nikkole Salter, Tina Satter, Robert Schenkkan, Madhuri Shekar,Bess Wohl, Doug Wright, among others.
“I am one of the 2.7 million Arts and Culture workers who have been unemployed for most of the last year,” wrote Robert O’Hara, Tony-nominated director of Slave Play. “I ask you as my leaders to create a Department and Secretary of Arts & Culture. We are an $877 billion dollar industry.”
The letter campaign is something of a precursor to the upcoming “Arts Workers Unite: 100 Days of Art and Activism,” in which arts groups will lobby for and promote the arts and culture sector during the first 100 days of the new administration. Organizers emphasize the $877 billion and 5.1 million American jobs added to the U.S. economy by the arts. Currently, an estimated 2.7 million arts workers are unemployed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The letters are available to read here.