Arts Organizations Are Working to Promote a New Bill That Would Suspend Rent for New York’s Struggling Small Businesses and Artists

If enacted, the new bill would freeze rents for 90 days.

Grafitti that reads RENTFREEZE NOW! during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic on March 22, 2020 in New York City. Photo by Bill Tompkins/Getty Images.
Grafitti that reads RENTFREEZE NOW! in New York City. Photo by Bill Tompkins/Getty Images.

The New Art Dealers Alliance and the Art Dealers Association of America are encouraging New York’s arts professionals to rally behind legislation that would provide a 90-day rent suspension for both residential and small-business tenants suffering financial hardship amid the global health crisis. If passed, the bill could offer a lifeline to galleries, artists, art handlers, and other art professionals whose livelihoods have been threatened in recent weeks.

Proposed by New York State Senator Michael Gianaris, the bill would suspend rent payments for eligible applicants “if such tenant has lost employment or was forced to close their place of business.” The landlords of tenants could also be eligible for suspended mortgage payments.

“It would provide crucial relief to many organizations and individuals working within the arts community, including artists, galleries, and art handlers, as well as other contractors and freelancers who are critical to our industry,” the Art Dealers Association of America said in a statement, urging its members to reach out to elected officials and voice their support of the bill.

Meanwhile, rent forgiveness was one of several proposed relief measures in a Change.org petition launched by the New Art Dealers Alliance last week that has amassed some 13,000 signatures. The organization also proposed a freeze on mortgage payments, utility bill forgiveness, and emergency Medicare for all, among other measures.

The alliance is now mobilizing to support the bill introduced by Gianaris. “With April 1st quickly approaching, we have decided to focus our efforts on supporting to suspend rent for residential and commercial tenants affected by COVID-19,” a new petition reads. “We’re calling on our supporters to help mount pressure on our elected officials to pass this bill.”

Those who support a rent freeze are encouraged to email, call, or Tweet their local representative.


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