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Chicago actor pushes Congress to save the arts amid pandemic

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CHICAGO Across Chicago, state and nationwide stages, theaters and museums face an uncertain future due to the pandemic.

Actor and writer Matthew-Lee Erlbach grew up in the Chicago area and is now one of the leaders in congressional demand to help save a multi-billion dollar industry.

“The constellation of artistic institutions is failing right now,” said we are facing a galactic economic disaster if we don’t do something immediately.

In August, Erlbach wrote an open letter to the US Senate, calling for passage of the Dawn Act. A petition called Defend Arts Workers Now has been signed by more than 16,000 people online.

“Being a Chicagoan knowing that $ 30 billion represents the arts economy of Illinois and $ 2 billion of household income in Chicago alone,” Erlbach said. “If we don’t act quickly, we face economic disaster in the city of Chicago.”

The internet is playing a pivotal role in the push, calling on the Senate to expand unemployment, health coverage, and invest $ 43.85 billion in grants to support the millions of Americans who make a living in the arts.

In July, those working behind the scenes of live events and the Chicago theater industry called on Congress to pass similar legislation. The US House has approved a bill, but the Senate has yet to pass it.

“It’s really a lifeline for them. It’s not something they want to be a part of… it’s something they need to help their families, ”said Complete Crewing owner Dan Kantor. “It’s such a shame that the economic engine of this city is these people who stand here and the government can’t find a way to take care of them when they need it most.

A movement called “be a hero of the arts” is working to pressure lawmakers to act immediately to help the industry that was one of the first to shut down.

“These are the workers in museums, theater, opera, dance, cultural spaces and all related businesses that support this highly interdependent ecosystem,” said Erlbach.

A system that is hitting hard on a city like Chicago, with arts and culture as a major economic draw that is not expected to reopen until next year at the earliest.

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