Senator Santarsiero Co-Hosts Hearing on Impacts of COVID-19 on Historic, Arts and Cultural Industry

BUCKS COUNTY – September 14, 2020 – Two Bucks County cultural institutions were featured in a Senate committee hearing that highlighted the value of historic, arts and cultural organizations to our local and state economies, and the support they need to survive the challenges of the pandemic.

State Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-10) today co-hosted the Senate Democratic Policy Committee Hearing on the Impact of COVID-19 on the Arts, Cultural, and Historical Institutions of Pennsylvania.  Two local panelists, Kyle McKoy, President & CEO of the Mercer Museum & Fonthill Castle, and Alexander Fraser, Producing Director of the Bucks County Playhouse, provided testimony on the challenges of serving the public during the pandemic. 

“We are so fortunate to have such a robust arts and culture scene here in the 10th state Senate district, but it is clear that these organizations have faced incredible hardship during the pandemic,” said Sen. Santarsiero.  “We heard today about the challenges of hosting in-person performances, exhibits and tours, ensuring adequate fundraising, and issues with navigating the grant process to help keep their doors open and their staff on payroll.  I am committed to ensuring there is continued opportunities for funding and resources available for the industry, as they struggle to serve the community in these unprecedented times.”

Sen. Santarsiero pointed to the arts and cultural institutions as vital to our economy and to our community well-being, and he added that if there is a way to resume live performances that can be done safely for the performers, support personnel and audience, then it should be done.

“The public and private sectors have responded in tremendous ways to support charitable organizations. A key shift in giving has been the increased focus on the need for nonprofit entities to receive general operating support,” McKoy testified. “Just like the for-profit sector, there is a cost for doing business for not for profit organizations also–we need to pay people, maintain properties, buildings and offices. In doing so, nonprofits are vital to the health and viability of our local communities. Nonprofits support other businesses—banking and financial services, manufacturing, hospitality, printing, technology, and the list goes on.”

McKoy added that the Mercer Museum and Fonthill Castle’s combined total economic impact is $13.9 million, in direct, indirect and induced spending for the Doylestown area.  Similarly, Fraser said the Bucks County Playhouse drew over 85,000 visitors to New Hope, generating $10 million to the Pennsylvania economy last year.

“Like all performing arts institutions, today, the Playhouse is fighting to stay alive.  As a young nonprofit organization with no endowment, the Playhouse is particularly vulnerable,” testified Fraser. “Please allow theatres to resume indoor performances with prudent safety guidelines such as the allowance of 50% occupancy for in-door restaurants.”

The full video of the hearing is available here.