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Entertainment Industry Groups Seek Reform of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program

Coronavirus Placeholder COVID19 Variety
Cheyne Gateley/Variety Intelligence Platform

A coalition of more than three dozen entertainment industry organizations is asking Congress to reform the implementation of the CARES Act by enacting a new COVID relief package.

The groups include Actors Equity, the American Federation of Musicians, SAG-AFTRA, the Recording Industry Association of America, Digital Media Association, Paradigm Talent Agency, the Recording Academy, the Writers Guild of America East and music publishers ASCAP, BMI and the Association of Independent Music Publishers. In a letter to Congress released Friday, the groups said that the implementation of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program has overlooked workers who have mixed income and report it on W-2 and 1099 forms.

“For those of us in the creative field to survive – and recover – after this crisis, we must be able to access the full support intended by Congress,” the letter said. “Given the unique nature of our industry, many in our profession work from project to project and gig to gig, not only in multiple jobs but in various capacities. As a result, creators often find themselves working as employees receiving W-2 wages and as independent contractors (or otherwise self-employed) receiving 1099 income for performances, royalties, and other services. Unfortunately, implementation of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program has overlooked workers with mixed income.”

“In almost all cases that we see in every state, a minimum amount of W-2 income disqualifies a self-employed individual for PUA and significantly lowers the amount of assistance they receive. PUA must be updated to recognize these different income streams and allow individuals to show their mixed sources of revenue for a full accounting of their annual income,” the letter went on.

Other signees on the letter include Academy of Country Music, Alliance for Recorded Music, the American Association of Independent Music, Americana Music Association, Artist Rights Alliance, California Arts Advocates, Christian Music Trade Association, Church Music Publishers Association, Country Music Association, Folk Alliance International, Gospel Music Association, International Bluegrass Music Association, MusicAnswers, Songwriters Guild of America, SoundExchange and the Southern Gospel Music Guild.

The CARES Act is also known as The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. President Donald Trump signed a $2 trillion economic stimulus package on March 27 to mitigate the worst effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the U.S. economy.