Monday, April 12, 2021

Zoo and museum associations applaud US COVID relief measures

The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) have applauded the US Congress for including much needed COVID-19 relief aid for their members in the recently passed “Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.” The bill was signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on December 27.

Provisions of the Appropriations Act which will benefit zoos, aquariums, and museums, include:

$284 billion for a first and second round of forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans available to small businesses and non-profit organizations with fewer than 300 employees.

$15 billion in dedicated funding for grants for shuttered venue operators, including museums, also known as “Save Our Stages.” This funding may be applied to nonprofit zoos and aquariums that meet the eligibility criteria. The shuttered venue funds are available to those institutions with over 500 employees, which made them ineligible for PPP loans.

The Appropriations Act also includes a $2 million increase for the Office of Museum Services at the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and $5.25 million increases each for the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities.

AZA statement: “With 2021 on the horizon, members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) are enduring significant economic losses because of pandemic-related closures and reductions in operating capacity. However, they continue to provide veterinary care, housing, and food for the animals in their care.  With Congress’s passage of legislation to address the ongoing public health and economic crises, financial assistance could soon be on the way to zoos, aquariums, and other facilities that care for animals.

“’Zoos and aquariums provide daily animal care and cannot simply turn off the lights and lock the doors. You cannot furlough the animals,’ said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA. ‘The grants and loans available in this relief legislation will save jobs and ensure zoos and aquariums will continue to provide the best care for all of the animals in their care. I am grateful that congressional leaders have recognized the key role zoos and aquariums serve in their communities.’”

AAM statement: “Alliance survey data shows that one out of every three museums may shutter permanently without immediate support–the loss of 11,000 museums and 124,000 jobs. More recent survey data has confirmed the financial state of U.S. museums is moving from bad to worse. Like other nonprofits, museums are continuing to meet the needs of their communities despite the financial stress caused by the pandemic–from providing spaces for remote and virtual classrooms to providing lesson plans, online learning opportunities, and drop-off learning kits to teachers and families. Museums will be vital to the nation’s recovery and the recovery of communities, big and small, urban and rural, all across the country.

“The Alliance would like to express its profound gratitude to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) who championed the effort to include museums in the live venue legislation also known as ‘Save Our Stages.’ We worked closely with his staff and other champions on Capitol Hill on this effort to include museums in COVID-19 relief legislation for the past several months and around the clock especially in these frantic last few weeks.”

IMAGE: Courtesy United States House of Representatives

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

InPark Magazine articles:

Association resources:

AZA: “Access to Federal Funds for Zoos, Aquariums a Hallmark of New COVID Relief Legislation”

AAM: “Museums Score Major Victories in End-of-Year Deal”

Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC): “Congress poised to extend Paycheck Protection Program and allow second draw” and “New COVID relief grants program for shuttered venues includes museums”

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