Text by Dawoud Kringle
Yesterday, yes yesterday!, on July 31st, 2020, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) or the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) $600 weekly payments to individuals who are unable to work because of a COVID-19-related reason but are not eligible for regular or extended unemployment benefits expired. The Senate failed to agree on an extension.
Many of our members applied for it. Some of them – including our President Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi – got some help and assistance by brother Keith Levenson.
So my sympathy goes to all my fellow members who from today on are in deep financial shit.
The same day the PUA or FPUC expired, Trump lied to the American people (again) when he tweeted that “Pelosi and Schumer blocked desperately needed unemployment payments.” Trump’s tactics are straight out of Joseph Goebbels’ teaching to “always accuse your enemies of that which you are guilty.” The reality is that Democrats passed an extension of unemployment benefits 10 weeks ago. But Trump’s lapdog McConnel refused to act on this until mid July when it was too late.
Other nations actively support the arts. Last month, the UK announced a £1.57bn bailout to keep the arts alive. Germany allotted €1 Billion to the Arts sector and lowered taxes on the Art.
The US, under the domination of the Trump administration, on the other hand, treats us like scum, and condemns professional musicians to poverty and destitution. With a few exceptions (such as the cultural departments of Long Beach City and Los Angeles, CA), performing artists in the US suffer a lonely and isolated exploration of virtual worlds on-line; often streaming their creations for free followed by a hat in hand request for donations.
To add insult to injury, the money that constituted the PUA payments was not, as government rhetoric would have us believe, gifts or charity handed out to deadbeats and flakes out of the kindness of their hearts Or weakness if their willpower. It is OUR MONEY. We paid this money in taxes for no reason other than to benefit the people of the United States.
It’s clear we cannot depend on the government to help us. We are on our own. It’s long past the time that artists and musicians begin to think in terms of autonomous power.