*** Updated December 11, 2020 at 2:00PM (EST) ***
NOVEMBER 2020 ELECTION – IMPACT ON THE DANCE COMMUNITY - QUICK LINKS
The November 3 election – like all elections at all levels of government – is consequential for the dance community as well as for the arts and nonprofit sectors as whole. It is important for all American citizens to do their civil responsibility every election cycle to register to vote and to vote. Moreover, it is important for artists and arts supporters to support candidates at all levels of government who support the arts and culture in their communities and vote for issues they are interested in that will impact their businesses, nonprofit organizations, states, local communities, and families.
This year’s election produced a record-level turnout nationally. Because of the current pandemic, most states increased their capacity for mail-in or absentee voting by their residents or implemented new procedures for mail-in or absentee voting to take place by their residents. Additionally, most states established early in-person voting to limit the amount of their residents voting on election day.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has been declared President-Elect and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris has been declared Vice President-Elect by winning the popular vote and the Electoral College (306 to 232 electoral votes) against incumbent President Donald Trump. The winner needed 270 out of 538 total electoral votes to win the Presidency. The projected outcome was based on five battleground states – Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. All states and the District of Columbia have certified their election results. Each state’s electors (nominated by local and state party conventions) for the Electoral College will meet on December 14 at their repective state capitals across the country to formally cast votes for President and Vice President. The U.S. Congress is scheduled to convene on January 6, 2021 to count the electoral votes received from the states and certify the winner of the election.
The U.S. Senate consists of 100 members. U.S. Senators serve six-year terms and every two years, one-third of the chamber is up for election. During this year’s election, 35 seats are contested. Prior to this year’s election, the Republican party held a 53-47 majority of the chamber (51 seats needed for majority).
The Republican party has 48 seats and the Democratic party has 50 seats. Two U.S. Senate races in Georgia remained uncalled. The Democratic party gained a Senate seat in Colorado and the Republican party gained a Senate seat in Alabama.
The 2 U.S. Senate
races for Georgia will be decided in a runoff election on January 5, 2021,
which will determine which political party controls the chamber for the two-year
session of the 117th Congress (convening January 3, 2021 and
adjourning January 3, 2023). Current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
(KY) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (NY) will maintain their
leadership roles regardless of which political party controls the chamber.
The U.S. House of Representatives consists of 435 members. U.S. Representatives serve two-year terms and every two years, the entire chamber is up for election. Prior to this year’s election, the Democratic party held a 232-197 majority of the chamber (218 seats needed for majority) with the Libertarian party holding a seat. There were also 5 seat vacancies prior to this year’s election.
Based on several various news organizations, as of 2:00PM (EST) December 11, several races remain uncalled; however, it is expected that the Democratic party will retain a slimmer majority of the chamber compared to pre-election. Current U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) is expected to retain her leadership role for the next session of Congress. U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA) is expected to retain his role as leader of the House Republicans.
State and local elections are as important as federal elections to ensure continued support for arts and culture across the country. It is important for artists and arts supporters to be as engaged at the state and local levels as at the federal level in terms of voting and advocacy on important issues impacting the arts community.
According to the National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL), there were 5,786 state legislative seats up across the country in 44 states, representing 80 percent of the nation’s 7,383 seats and including 86 of the nation’s 99 legislative chambers. Heading into this year’s election, the Republican party controlled 3,820 state legislative seats (52 percent) compared to 3,436 seats (47 percent) by the Democratic party with 82 seats controlled by other political parties or independents. Forty-five seats were vacant pre-election. The Republican party controlled 59 of the nation’s 99 legislative chambers (60 percent) compared to 39 chambers (40 percent) by the Democratic party. The Republican party has held a majority of the state legislative chambers across the country since the 2010 election cycle. Moreover, the Republican party controlled the governorship and state legislature (both chambers) in 21 states compared to 15 by the Democratic party. In 13 states, control of the governorship and state legislature was split between the two major political parties. There were no state legislative races in four states – LA, MS, NJ, and VA – which holds elections in odd-numbered years.
As of November 11, according to the NCSL, not much has changed concerning party control of the state legislatures. So far, the Democratic party has lost control of the New Hampshire House and Senate to the Republican party.
Eleven governorships – DE, IN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NH, UT, VT, WA, WV - were up during this year’s election. As a result of this year’s election, all incumbents are expected to win another term except for Montana, which was an open seat with the Republican party candidate expected to win.
Regardless of which political party controls the White House, U.S. Senate, or the U.S. House, the top two priorities will be addressing the current pandemic and the economy. Dance/USA has been aggressively urging Congress, in partnership with its arts and nonprofit sector partners, to immediately act to provide more pandemic relief for businesses, nonprofit organizations, states, local governments, schools, families, and individuals, including individual dance artists, dance professionals, and other creative workers.
According to a March 2020 analysis by the Bureau of Economic Analysis within the U.S. Department of Commerce, the arts and culture workforce contributed $877.8 billion, or 4.5 percent, to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). The arts and cultural sectors are an economic engine that employed, prior to the pandemic, more than 5 million workers. Unfortunately, due to the current pandemic, according to the Americans for the Arts, financial losses to nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, nationally, are an estimated $14.1 billion, to date. Ninety-six percent of non-profit and performing arts organizations have cancelled events—a loss of 478 million admissions and $15.1 billion in audience spending at local businesses (e.g., restaurants, lodging, retail, parking). The total economic impact of organizational and audience-spending losses is $4.9 billion in lost government revenue and 847,000 jobs no longer being supported. Approximately, 95 percent of artists and creative workers have lost income and 63 percent are fully unemployed.
Dance/USA’s continued message to the U.S. Congress and the White House is that investing in the creative economy and in creative workers will be important to help our nation recover economically from the current pandemic. Investing in the arts and culture will be important to help our nation recover emotionally and mentally from the current pandemic. It is crucial for dance artists, dance professionals, creative workers, and arts/culture supporters to engage their elected officials at all levels of government to emphasize those economic and creative contributions.
There are several important issues that Dance/USA continues to aggressively advocate for and will continue to do so through the end of 2020 (lame duck session) and during the next session of the U.S. Congress, including the following:
Dance/USA is also working with various partners across the
arts and nonprofit sectors to ensure various policies of interest are
priorities for the next Presidential administration and 117th
It is crucial for dance artists, dance professionals, creative workers, and arts/culture supporters to establish working relationships with their elected officials at all levels of government. Elected officials need to know what is happening in their states and local communities on a regular basis so they can make informed decisions and votes on issues and legislation being considered on Capitol Hill to support businesses, non-profit organizations, creative workers, and gig workers. Advocacy messaging should focus on the creative economy at all levels of government (i.e. economic contributions to the national, state, and local economies; current number of jobs and number of jobs lost due to the pandemic, etc.) State arts councils provide valuable economic data on the creative economy that is useful in advocacy communications.
Below are some practical strategies to be effective advocates for your businesses, nonprofit organizations, dance community, and the arts community.
· Connect on social media – Connect with your re-elected and newly-elected officials at all levels of government on social media. Most, if not all, have either a Facebook and/or Twitter account.
· Congratulate and thank them - If you have relationships with your re-elected and newly-elected officials, please immediately send them a note of congratulations, thank them for their leadership, and indicate that you will follow up to discuss specific policy priorities.
· Send an email - As soon as your re-elected and newly-elected officials receive their official email addresses, please communicate with them about your top specific issues of interest (2-3 issues) and indicate that you are available to meet with them to discuss further.
· Schedule a meeting – Schedule a meeting (virtual or in-person) with your elected officials to discuss your specific issues of interest, discuss how your business, nonprofit organization, and/or the arts community are dealing with the current pandemic, etc.
· Regularly Communicate – Continue to communicate with your elected officials on a regular basis about your specific issues of interest and how the current pandemic is impacting your business, nonprofit organization, and/or the arts community.
Dance/USA has a robust government affairs and advocacy operation to help its members with their advocacy efforts, including scheduling meetings, prepping members for their meetings, providing policy information and talking points. Various advocacy resources can be found on the Dance/USA website. Advocacy assistance and general inquires can be directed to Tony Shivers, Director of Government Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
· U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account, U.S. and States 2017
· National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL), StateElections 2020
· Americans for the Arts, COVID-19’s Impact onThe Arts Research Update: November 2, 2020
The Dance/USA Election 2020 Analysis can also be accessed with this word document for your review and use.