Rep. Sherrill Hosts Roundtable Discussion with NJ-11 Arts Organizations

September 9, 2020
Press Release

Parsippany, NJ -- Representative Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) hosted a roundtable discussion last week with performing arts organizations based in New Jersey’s 11th District. The conversation centered around the impact of COVID on operations, how these organizations have created spaces to continue to provide access to the arts during the pandemic, and the need for additional federal support.

“The arts help contribute $1.2 billion to New Jersey’s economy each year. Supporting the arts in NJ-11 during the pandemic is vital to both our arts community and our local economies,” said Rep. Sherrill. “A performance at one of these venues typically packs local restaurants and stores, and generates jobs for local vendors. I am grateful for the efforts local arts organizations have made to bring performances to us virtually and outdoors. It has provided so many people an opportunity to see a great play or musical performance during the pandemic. And while I am glad these organizations were able to benefit from programs like the PPP, EIDL, and other grants early on in the pandemic, it is clear that more needs to be done to sustain them through the ongoing crisis.”

"Towns across America are counting on non-profit arts organizations and arts venues to make their communities come alive again, and to help bring much needed revenue to associated businesses,” said Melissa Walker, the President and Founder of Jazz House Kids. “Congresswoman Sherrill gets that and never misses a beat to bring us into this important conversation and make sure we are at the table in this recovery."

“I greatly appreciate Congresswomen Sherrill’s concern and willingness to listen to the arts community in her district,” said David Tamaki Director of Advancement at the New Jersey Ballet. “The economic impact COVID-19 has had on the arts sector has been devastating. The arts community in New Jersey is in desperate need for additional support both at the federal and state level. Representative Sherrill assured all of us that our concerns and feedback will make it through the halls of Congress as relief bills continue to be negotiated in Washington.”

"The first round of CARES-Act stimulus helped the Morris Museum through the initial shock of those first months of crisis,” said Cleveland Johnson, Executive Director of the Morris Museum. “Now, however, as this fight draws out into months and more months, a mature response is needed that further addresses the long-term complexities of keeping the economic engines of our arts sector running, as we contribute to the overall health of our communities, to their education, to their inspiration, and to their emotional well-being."

“The performing arts sector is sure to be one of the hardest hit as it will be one of the last industries able to return to normal operation,” said Bonnie Monte, Executive Director of The Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey. “That will have a far-reaching ripple effect on the communities and people we serve in myriad ways – economically, educationally, culturally and spiritually. Having Congresswoman Sherrill reach out to hear our concerns was an important morale boost as we all struggle to navigate our way through these rough pandemic waters.  Her willingness to listen and try to help us in this endeavor is so important – especially in our state where the arts, culture and history play such an important role in our economy and in our constituents’ lives.”

“Congresswoman Sherrill heard our concerns about the workers in the arts industry as well as the economic health of our organizations,” said Tom Werder, Executive Director of Morris Arts. “Teaching artists and individual artists and other arts workers have been devastated by the shut-down. We are looking to Washington to finish the negotiations around extended unemployment and PPP and all the ways that the federal government can sustain our vital work of building community through the arts. We are grateful to have a strong advocate like Congresswoman Sherrill.”

Representative Sherrill was joined by the following organizations:

Ed Kirchdoerffer, Mayo Performing Arts Center

Tom Werder, Morris Arts

Cleveland Johnson, Morris Museum

David Tamaki, New Jersey Ballet Company and School

Bonnie Monte, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey

Anthony Morrison, The Wellmont Theater

Melissa Walker, Jazz House Kids

Liz Mattson, New Jersey State Council on the Arts

Rep. Sherrill is a co-sponsor of the Save Our Stages Act (H.R. 7806), the Prioritized Paycheck Protection Program (P4) Act (H.R. 7241), and the RESTART Act (H.R. 7481).