Advocate for the Arts! Save Our Stages!

As The Music Hall, along with many of our neighboring small businesses and fellow arts and cultural venues, struggles through the pandemic, we are grateful to have the continued support of dedicated funders like the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts (NHSCA).

Funding for NHSCA grants and services is provided by the New Hampshire Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. The NHSCA uses these funds to stimulate economic growth through the arts, invest in the creativity of students, make the arts accessible to underserved populations, and preserve heritage arts. As the mission of The Music Hall so directly addresses these goals, the NHSCA has been a long-time funder.

Please, consider voicing your appreciation for the NHSCA. And while you’re speaking to your representatives, please help us advocate for the Save Our Stages Act and the movement to help theaters across the country who have been deeply affected by the pandemic. Speak up on social media, pick up the phone, or use the template we created to send a letter to Senator Shaheen, Senator Hassan, and Congressman Pappas, and encourage them to support and cosponsor S. 4258, the Save Our Stages Act (or its incorporation into the HEROES Act), and S. 3814/H.R. 7481, the RESTART Act, both designed to benefit independent music venues, as well as the HITS Act H.R. 7886 to help independent artists.

This year is like no other, but The Music Hall has been fortunate to receive continued support from the NHSCA. In March, Congress passed the CARES Act, which resulted in three funding streams that have contributed to keeping The Music Hall afloat: the federal Paycheck Protection Program, a forgivable loan program for small businesses; an allotment of funds to the National Endowment for the Arts, a portion of which was reallocated to state arts agencies including the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts; and New Hampshire’s own Nonprofit Emergency Relief Fund, $60 million earmarked to help nonprofit organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The short-term relief package was a great boon to The Music Hall and we are glad to have it, but it is temporary and will not sustain us.

Arts and cultural organizations in New Hampshire are responsible for direct expenditures totaling $57 million; support more than 2,200 full-time equivalent jobs creating household income of more than $47 million; and generate local and state government revenues of more than $6 million, according to Arts and Economic Prosperity 5, a national economic impact study conducted by Americans for the Arts. Our patrons—more than 2 million residents and non-residents of New Hampshire—spend an average of $20 to $50 per person, per event, delivering $60 million in arts-related spending to our downtowns.

The health of local businesses, restaurants, and shops that create a distinct identity for downtown Portsmouth and attract visitors to the Seacoast and New Hampshire at large also contribute to our success and we are vital to theirs. We fuel these small businesses with our audiences, employees, volunteers, and visiting artists, all of whom eat, park, and shop as part of the experience of visiting and or working at The Music Hall.

Grants from government and foundation sources including the NHSCA are a critical funding stream in The Music Hall’s multi-stream budget plan for both annual and capital campaigns. We cannot assure our anchor position as a nationally renowned arts organization without the help of these funds. Quite simply they will be an integral part of the raft we are building to navigate these unprecedented waters.

We are so grateful for our legislators in the state and across the nation who recognize and support the role of the arts in creating a thriving community and a healthy economy. We thank you, too, for your support and advocacy on our behalf.