Even as the coronavirus crisis interrupts our lives in unimaginable ways, we can help each other by focusing on a positive future. The 2020 U.S. Census – which is happening right now – can affect future arts funding in a positive way, and that’s something good to focus on at the present. By now, you should have received via snail mail an invitation to participate in the census. You have three options for responding: online, by phone or by mail. The questions are simple and all your personal information is kept confidential. The Census Bureau is bound by federal law to protect your information and your data is used only for statistical purposes. Learn more at 2020CENSUS.GOV.
For various reasons, in past years a significant number of New Yorkers haven’t participated in the census. Without a complete count, our city’s fair share of congressional representation is at stake, as are billions of dollars in federal funding for health, education, transportation, infrastructure such as bridges and tunnels, and many other programs that New Yorkers rely on.
Specifically for the arts community, the census has the potential to seriously impact the distribution of dollars from the federal cultural agencies. But population-based funding allocations also exist throughout the government, including in the Departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture and others, all of which also have pockets of funds that go to the arts. Additionally, special government grants are given to areas with large populations of historically marginalized communities. If the census doesn’t get an accurate count of these populations, then arts organizations engaged with those populations could be hindered in the amount of money they can get through government grants.
For all these reasons, it’s critical that our members participate in the census, and that we as union members engage with our friends, family, and communities to make sure that every person is counted. The NYC Central Labor Council and the Consortium for Worker Education are leading the Labor Counts 2020 initiative in NYC, getting union members and our communities involved in taking the census. You can sign up for updates from Labor Counts Census 2020 by texting NYCLABORCOUNTS to 87787. It’s up to us to shape the future of our communities! And if you haven’t taken the 2020 U.S. Census yet, start at 2020CENSUS.GOV right now!