Tens of Millions of Dollars in PPP Loans Went to NYC Museums, Art Galleries, and Orgs

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David Zwirner, Pace, and Gagosian galleries each received over $2 million in PPP funding, and the Whitney and the Guggenheim Museum each received a loan between $5 and 10 million.
At the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Congress allocated $350 billion for small business loans to mitigate the financial havoc wreaked by the crisis. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the rescue package was meant to help small businesses of 500 employees or less retain their staff. Hyperallergic combed through public loan data from the Paycheck Protection Program made available by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and highlighted below notable instances of taxpayer dollars funneled to arts museums, commercial galleries, nonprofits, and publications.

Several arts organizations that received loans have implemented layoffs and furloughs, among them the Guggenheim and the Whitney Museums. The David Zwirner Gallery, which received loans, also announced the lay off of 40 employees last week.

PPP loans are distinct from the funds earmarked for the culture sector under the CARES Act, which provided a respective $75 million for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH); $50 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services; and $25 million for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC. The 19 museums that make up the Smithsonian Institution got a cumulative $7.5M (in New York City, the National Museum of the American Indian and the Cooper-Hewitt are part of the Smithsonian.)

It's worth nothing that SBA has been sharply criticized for its uneven distribution of the aid to large corporations, such as Shake Shack, which notably returned its $10 million loan. Ultimately, the Treasury Department ruled that businesses with access to other sources of capital should not be eligible for the forgivable loans and asked public companies to return the funds. At least one of the arts organizations listed in this article appears to be a publicly traded company.

Finally, SBA provides only ranges, not specific loan amounts. This post will be continuously updated with exact numbers…
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