COVID-19 Advocacy Efforts & Resources

Employees and Masks

Last week, Cal/OSHA approved revised workplace pandemic rules that allow fully vaccinated employees to stop wearing masks in most workplaces. The Emergency Temporary Standards now align with mask requirements from the California Department of Public Health. Governor Gavin Newsom immediately issued an executive order waiving the usual 10-day legal review. Employers may allow fully vaccinated employees not to wear face coverings indoors, but must document their vaccination status. Vaccinated employees will still be able to wear masks if they choose without facing retaliation and the revised standard does not prohibit an employer from requiring all employees to use face coverings. Learn more

Confused by California's Reopening Rules?

The California Department of Public Health released a new health order that went into effect June 15, 2021. The State of California is moving Beyond the Blueprint for a Safer Economy and there are far fewer restrictions on museums. For example, capacity limits and physical distancing are not mandated, although masks may still be required. CAM sent institutional members a review of the key changes and links to additional information last week.

500+ Organizations Support $1 Billion Budget Ask

More than 500 arts organizations, independent venues, museums, local governments, service organizations, trade associations, and unions have joined the coalition formed by California Arts Advocates, NIVA CA, and CAM to ask Governor Newsom and the California State Legislature for an unprecedented $1 billion investment in arts, culture, and creativity. The proposed stimulus and transformational investment in California’s arts and cultural sectors will help overcome the challenges of COVID-19 restrictions and have a positive impact on jobs creation, the economy, and tax revenues. Collectively, we are creating a movement that will help our sectors and California’s communities recover, rebuild, and pursue a more equitable future.

The ecosystem of arts, culture, and creativity in California is vast and impactful, representing over 8% of the Gross State Product. The sector relies on revenue from live events, indoor attractions, gatherings and group participation, which has largely been shut down for over a year to stop the spread of COVID-19. According to some reports, the arts, entertainment, and recreation sectors will not fully recover from this public health crisis and muted economy until 2025. To fully address the recovery of our sector and to help stimulate economic activity, state advocates are building a coalition to support $1 billion in stimulus funds.

Read the Letter

New Study Finds Museums Are Safer Than Other Indoor Activities 

A recent study at the Berlin Institute of Technology (TU Berlin) in Germany claims that the risk of COVID-19 transmission is far lower in museums and theaters than in supermarkets, restaurants, offices, or public transportation. The study conducted a comparative evaluation of indoor environments to assess the risk of infection via aerosol particles. The researchers found that if kept at 30% capacity with everyone wearing a mask and following proper precautions, museums, theaters, and operas are safer than any other activity studied. 

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324 Organizations Sign on to Letter Asking for $50 Million in Relief Funding

In early January, Governor Gavin Newsom previewed his 2021-22 State Budget and his plan to help California through the COVID-19 pandemic. The Budget proposes the approval of $575 million for California’s small businesses and nonprofit organizations, including $25 million “for small cultural institutions, such as museums.”

In the weeks since this announcement, CAM has met with budget staff, written a letter to the Chairs of the Senate and Assembly Budget Committees, and provided public comments at hearings. In addition to expressing general support for COVID-19 relief funding for cultural institutions and early action on this much-needed assistance, CAM and California Arts Advocates are specifically asking for: (1) increasing the amount to $50 million, (2) making nonprofit, cultural institutions of all sizes eligible, and (3) giving priority to institutions with less access to other relief programs.

A letter was sent to Legislature Budget Committee chairs on February 4, 2021 with 324 organizations as co-signers with these specific requests. You are encouraged to share this letter with your State legislators and ask for their support.

Read the Letter

Legislators Urge Governor to Modify Reopening Guidance

Under the leadership of Assemblymember Laura Friedman, a bipartisan coalition of 27 state legislators signed a letter to Governor Newsom on November 4th with the following request: “Given the role that indoor museums play in enriching the lives of visitors and helping to reflect our shared hopes and values, we urge you to align the classification of indoor museums in the state’s current tiered color-coded classification system with the restrictions placed on retail and indoor malls. Specifically, we request that state blueprint be modified to allow indoor museums that follow the state’s reopening guidance to operate at 25% capacity for counties located in the state’s 'Purple' tier. If public health offices have concerns, we urge the state to work with the museum sector to consider requiring museums in Tier 1 to adopt additional safety measures.” Click below to read the entire letter.

CAM Appeal on Reopening Museums

In response to the October 9th letter from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), CAM issued a letter urging the agency to consider new information and research regarding museum visitors and to revisit the agency’s assumptions about museums. CAM believes there is strong, factual evidence that would support a decision to allow museums that are in Tier 1 counties to reopen with limited capacity and with additional safety measures deemed necessary. California museums are eager to serve their communities and provide the mental, cultural, and economic benefits that are sorely needed.

Letter from CDPH Regarding Reopening Guidelines for Museums

After several months of advocating for changes to the reopening guidelines for museums, CAM received an official response from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) which outlines the reasons why they have chosen not to allow museums to reopen at the same capacities as shopping malls. In particular, the letter states that "museums attract patrons from larger geographic areas and multiple communities" and "patrons spend longer periods of time in museums" as the two reasons separating museums from shopping malls. It is disappointing that our field's collective efforts have not produced different results so far – but CAM will continue to advocate for the needs of museums, as well as the entire arts, cultural, and entertainment sector. Read the letter from CDPH below.

CAM Response on Reopening Museums

In a press conference on August 28 regarding the COVID-19 public health crisis, Governor Newsom announced new guidance that affects the reopening of indoor activities at California museums, effective August 31. The "California Blueprint for a Safer Economy" will allow museums to reopen with modifications and capacity limitations based on each county's metrics for the positivity rate and number of cases.

The State developed a new website that provides specific information about museums, aquariums, and zoos in each county. You can select "Museums" in the "Activity" field, for example, to read the specific status of museums in each county. For sector-specific guidance and checklists for modifications, click here and select "Museums, zoos, and aquariums".

CAM issued a letter to the Governor on July 15 (see below) asking that museums be reclassified to a risk category that was the same as shopping malls. As we can see from an outline of the orders by sector and tier, this request was not granted. CAM issued a public statement on August 29. Please feel free to share the statement with your media contacts, elected officials, board members, and/or members.

After two meetings with representatives of the Governor's Administration, CAM issued a letter on September 2 that proposes safety controls for museums in Tier 1 that address their concerns. Click on the link below to read the letter.

Other Advocacy Efforts

CAM is deeply concerned about the financial recovery of museums in the aftermath of this viral outbreak. California museums are experiencing unprecedented reductions in revenue (see April 3rd survey results below). Our association has been actively sending letters to members of the California congressional delegation asking that museums be included in COVID-19 relief and economic stimulus packages.

How does your organization #MUSEUMFROMHOME?

Over 30,000 museums around the world have already shared content tagged with #museumfromhome. We truly applaud the creative efforts of California museums that are participating in the movement to engage their audiences from afar on social media.

Follow CAM @calmuseums on Instagram and tag us in your #museumfromhome posts for a chance to be reposted on our account.

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Museum Reopening Survey Results & Sample Plans

In our effort to represent the interests of museums in Sacramento, we asked our institutional members about their plans for reopening. The survey results, from 87 museums (as of June 4, 2020), show great disparities in the readiness of museums to reopen to the public. More than half (53%) of California museums do not have a projected date for reopening, while nearly one-third (31%) are ready to reopen as soon as the State of California and their local public health officials allow them to do so. A minority (14%) were working with specific, projected dates, with most of those in mid-June or early July (but some as late as November or January). A majority of museums (69%) are in the process of developing their reopening plans and 21% have completed them. Thank you to our institutional members who took the time to complete this survey.

Some museums that have completed reopening plans are willing to share them with other museum representatives. These sample plans are not intended to be recommendations by either CAM or the organizations that drafted them. For definitive guidance, see the state of California's guidance documents for museums, zoos, and aquariums. Keep in mind that each museum and county will have unique considerations to make when developing a plan for reopening. Be sure to follow your county's variance information and communicate with local health officials. We hope the sample plans provided will serve as helpful resources for reference. If you have completed your plan and wish to share it as a sample, please upload it here.

See Sample Plans

Survey Results: CAM Institutional Members & COVID-19

CAM conducted a survey of our member institutions in early April to gauge the initial financial impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on our state's museums and cultural organizations. We have prepared a one-page overview of these survey results that we have shared with State legislators, policymakers, and members of the California congressional delegation (PDF available for download below).

As expected, California museums are experiencing unprecedented reductions in revenue and are losing over $22 million a day due to the statewide shelter-in-place order necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. By May 1st, the California museum sector will have lost $929 million. Although most museums have maintained staffing levels as of April 3, 2020, 40% have cut back personnel costs with staff furloughs and/or layoffs. The full-time equivalent of the California museum workforce has decreased 10%.

To help you navigate these uncertain times, here are some resources to inform your decision-making:

Remote working tips and professional development opportunities: