March 21, 2017

Udall, Dingell Introduce CREATE Act to Stimulate Arts Businesses, Jobs in the Creative Economy

WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall and U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell (MI-12) introduced a bill to stimulate the development of arts businesses, jobs and the creative economy in New Mexico, Michigan and across the nation. Recognizing the importance of the arts and cultural tourism to state economies, Udall and Dingell's bill - the Comprehensive Resources for Entrepreneurs in the Arts to Transform the Economy (CREATE) Act - would support artists, entrepreneurs and workers employed in tourism and cultural development in growing their businesses, accessing federal resources and funding, and expanding their networks with local communities.

Udall first introduced the CREATE Act in 2016, and has since held listening sessions across New Mexico to hear from artists and arts backers about how the bill could be improved. Based on the feedback from constituents, this year's version of the legislation expands the proposed Artist Corps to include technical experts to assist art entrepreneurs with grant writing, marketing, and financial planning. Udall also is proud to team up with Rep. Dingell this year to expand the effort to pass the legislation through Congress.

"With more artists per capita than any other state, New Mexico is home to one of the most vibrant artistic communities in the nation, and our artists play a vital role in shaping our culture, attracting tourists, and creating jobs. One in 10 jobs in New Mexico is related to arts and culture. We heard enormous support when we first unveiled this bill in New Mexico last year, but we knew it could be improved. I want to thank the many New Mexico artists who offered suggestions and helped shape this updated legislation. They told us that artists and entrepreneurs need more help raising startup funds, and with marketing - so we have added that to the bill," Udall said. "We are re-introducing the CREATE Act at a time when the arts are facing enormous cuts to funding in our country, making it harder for artists and artistic entrepreneurs to access resources to help grow their businesses and fund their projects. That makes it that much more urgent to pass provisions in this bill to ensure that emerging artists, museums and galleries and artistic entrepreneurs have the support they need to expand our creative economy and create jobs. As the lead Democrat on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee over arts funding, I will continue to fight for strong resources to help protect and grow New Mexico's creative economy."

"From the beats of Motown to the Henry Ford Museum; and from the Michigan Opera Theatre to the local galleries, museums, artisans and entrepreneurs that enrich our towns and cities - Michigan's diverse and vibrant arts community is part of the fabric of our state and a driving force for economic innovation and competitiveness," said Dingell. "The arts employ tens of thousands of Michiganders and contribute $5 billion to our economy every year. It is critical that we continue to invest in and grow this vital industry, which is why I am proud to introduce the CREATE Act with Senator Udall. Creative people design great products - whether it's a work of art or an automobile - and are critical to a successful business. This legislation invests in our workforce and creative industries, while ensuring artists have the resources to grow their business and share their artwork so we can continue to attract visitors to our state and create jobs."

Along with the addition to the Artist Corps provision, the CREATE Act is changed from 2016 to reflect that a portion of the bill devoted to helping museums access important foreign collections was passed into law separately last year. Like the 2016 version, the updated legislation is divided into three sections; the first would provide support to artists and entrepreneurs to create and sustain arts-related businesses, the second would support museums and arts institutions, and the third would support arts in communities.

Key provisions include:

- Direction that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) should work with micro-lenders, traditional lenders and regulators to ensure that artists and entrepreneurs have access to micro-loans and that loan program criteria are not discriminatory toward arts-related businesses.
- Support for the development of SBA technical assistance programs targeted to meet the needs of the creative economy.
- A requirement that the Economic Development Administration and Rural Development Administration ensure that traditional economic development tools, such as incubators and grant programs, support the arts industry.
- Updates to the law to allow artists to claim tax deductions for charitable contributions based on the sale value of a piece of artwork, rather than the value of the materials used to create the artwork.
- The creation of an Artist Corps (similar to the AmeriCorps) within the Corporation for National and Community Service to help expand access to arts and arts education in communities, and to assist art entrepreneurs with grant writing, marketing and financial planning.
- The creation of a demonstration project to promote creative and performing arts in local economic planning.
- Measures to expand cultural and educational opportunities for American students and families by encouraging foreign governments to lend artwork to U.S. museums and educational institutions and expediting the visa process for foreign visual and performing artists hosted by American organizations.