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Actors’ Equity Says Encouraging Jobs Report Should Not Delay Legislation To Aid Arts & Entertainment Workers

David Robb

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Actors’ Equity said today that while the Department of Labor’s latest jobs report is encouraging, it should not delay passage of legislation pending in Congress that would help record levels of unemployed arts and entertainment workers.

The DOL’s new jobs report found that 2.5 million Americans went back to work last month, but noted that the jobless rate remains higher than at any time since 1940. According to the DOL, the nation’s unemployment level fell last month from 14.7% to 13.3%.

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“Today’s news is encouraging for those who have gone back to work, but also a sobering reminder of the long road to recovery for all of us for in the arts and entertainment industry,” said Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity. “While millions of Americans have gone back to work, our members and countless others in the service and hospitality sector are still facing record unemployment.

“The arts and entertainment sector drives local economies in cities and towns across the country,” she continued. “Today’s jobs report does not mean we should put the brakes on bold ideas for recovery. Without action to support the arts and entertainment sector, our entire economy will be slower to recover.”

The union said that while the HEROES Act, which is pending in Congress, has important health care provisions –including a COBRA subsidy — “it still lacks critical provisions to support the arts and entertainment sector. Among the provisions missing from the HEROES Act that would help the arts and entertainment sector: an emergency $4 billion in supplemental funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities and Corporation for Public Broadcasting; low interest loans for theaters that do not qualify for NEA funding; restoring the business tax deduction for the purchase of live entertainment tickets; and the passage of H.R. 3121, the bipartisan Performing Artist Tax Parity Act.”

The HEROES Act was passed by the House, but has yet to be approved by the Senate. H.R. 3121, meanwhile, would update the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act, a Regan-era tax benefit for workers in the entertainment industry that hasn’t been adjusted in nearly 35 years.

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