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Article Published: 10 Nov 2020

Post-Election Status and the Arts Sector

The November 3 election — like all elections at all levels of government — was consequential for the opera community, as well as for the arts and nonprofit sectors as a whole. It is important for all creative workers and arts supporters to be registered to vote and to vote during each election cycle. Moreover, it is important for opera companies, creative workers, and arts supporters to vote for those candidates at all levels of government who support the arts and culture in their communities and support issues that will support arts-related businesses, nonprofit organizations, and creative workers.

The November 2020 election produced a record-level turnout nationally. Because of the current pandemic, most states increased their capacity for mail-in or absentee voting by their residents or implemented new procedures for mail-in or absentee voting to take place by their residents. Additionally, most states established early in-person voting to limit the number of their residents voting on election day.

As a result of the election, various news organizations have projected former Vice President Joseph Biden as the winner of the presidential election due to his lead in the popular vote and the Electoral College vote over incumbent President Donald Trump. Several states continue to count their mail-in and absentee ballots. There are also states where the election result has triggered the recounting of all ballots. Secretaries of states will certify their states’ election results in the coming days and weeks. States’ electors are scheduled to meet in their respective state capitals in mid-December to officially cast their votes for one of the presidential tickets. The U.S. Congress is scheduled to convene on January 6, 2021, to count the state electoral votes and officially declare the winner. The winner is scheduled to installed on January 20, 2021.

Control of the U.S. Senate is still up for grabs between the political parties. Four U.S. Senate races remain uncalled as of November 10: Alaska, Georgia (2), and North Carolina. The Republican incumbents in Alaska and North Carolina are likely to secure additional terms. The two U.S. Senate races in Georgia are scheduled for runoff races on January 5, 2021. If the Democratic party wins both races, the U.S. Senate chamber (100 seats) would be tied 50-50j, with projected Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris being the tie-breaking vote as the U.S. Senate’s presiding officer. The Democratic party will maintain a projected slimmer majority of the U.S. House of Representatives when the 117th session of the U.S. Congress convenes on January 3, 2021.

Impact on the Arts Sector

What does the November election results mean for the arts and nonprofit sectors? The U.S. House and U.S. Senate are scheduled to reconvene during a lame-duck session until the end of 2021, and the top two priorities will be to fund the federal government for the remainder of FY2021 and provide more pandemic relief to businesses, nonprofit organizations, states, local government, schools, health care institutions, families, and individuals. Current short-term legislation funding the federal government at FY2020 levels will end on December 11, 2020.

OPERA America is working aggressively to engage Congress and work with its partners across the arts and nonprofit sectors to urge immediate action to provide more pandemic relief and to provide emergency and increased FY2021 appropriations for all federal arts-related agencies and programs, including the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services. OPERA America encourages its members and stakeholders to urge their Congressional delegations to immediately act to provide support and relief. Members and interested stakeholders can use the following OPERA America action alerts to communicate with their Congressional delegation on these issues: more pandemic relief and increased FY2021 appropriations.

These are practical tips and strategies for OPERA America members and other stakeholders to be effective advocates for their businesses, nonprofit organizations, creative workers, and arts communities during this time:

  • Connect on social media — Connect with your re-elected and newly elected officials at all levels of government on social media. Most, if not all, have either a Facebook and/or Twitter account.
  • Congratulate and thank them — If you have relationships with your re-elected and newly elected officials, please immediately send them a note of congratulations, thank them for their leadership, and indicate that you will follow up to discuss specific policy priorities.
  • Send an email — As soon as your re-elected and newly elected officials receive their official email addresses, please communicate with them about your top specific issues of interest (two to three issues) and indicate that you are available to meet with them to discuss further.
  • Schedule a meeting — Schedule a meeting (virtual or in-person) with your elected officials to discuss your specific issues of interest, discuss how your business, nonprofit organization, and/or the arts community is dealing with the current pandemic, etc.
  • Regularly Communicate — Continue to communicate with your elected officials on a regular basis about your specific issues of interest and how the current pandemic is impacting your business, nonprofit organization, and/or the arts community.

OPERA America can provide assistance to its members and stakeholders during each step of the advocacy process, including providing talking points and background information, as well as attending meetings with members to answer any questions that members may not be able to answer themselves. For more information, contact Tony Bennett Shivers, OPERA America's director of government affairs.