Home Magazine What is the PPP: Paycheck Protection Program?

After the storm we can begin to glimpse the horizon: we count the dead and the injured, look at the supplies and everything that is needed to raise the sails. After the Covid-19 storm, just like that in different states, we continue to count and look for solutions to rebuild what has been destroyed day by day. In the United States, the Treasury Department, following pressure from the Democratic Party, has launched the Paycheck Protection Program.

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The PPP is a non-repayable loan granted by the government for small businesses in order to maintain their employees' contracts during the crisis period due to the lockdown. The main requirement for the Democrats was to restore greater transparency regarding the procedures for awarding public subsidies. Thousands are the companies that have made the request, obtaining figures ranging from 150 thousand to 10 million dollars and, among these, many are the cultural and museum institutions, often much larger and renowned than you might think.

Among museums and institutions that have benefited from the Paycheck Protection Program for a sum of between 5 and 10 million dollars, for example, is the Whitney Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Less extreme but still significantly large loans -  between 2 and 5 million dollars - were granted to the Hammer Museum and the Jewish Museum. Also among the names indicated in the document provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration (the government agency of the United States that provides support to entrepreneurs and small businesses) is SFMOMA, San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art, which has received a loan in the upper region of between 5 and 10 million euros.

But there are not just only institutions on the list, several galleries defined in blue-chip have also benefited from the PPP. We can mention Gagosian and David Zwirner, who have fired several members of their respective staff despite having received on loan from 2 to 5 million dollars. The list continues with Hauser & Wirth, Blum and Poe and Lisson Gallery: all of whom have received between 350,000 - 1,000,000 dollars. The Marlborough Gallery was also on the list, despite the announcement of the closure of its New York office. Auction houses, including Phillips and Bonhams have received loans of between 2 and 5 million dollars as well, but notably individual artists such as Jeff Koons seem to have received loans in the region of 1 to 2 million dollars, which is slightly shocking. It should be remembered that Koons produces his work in a Warholian manner with his large team of workers in his vast studio. Even if it is not understood how it is possible given the skyrocketing prices of his works, it would appear that already in 2019, well before the Coronavirus, the artist had started a massive campaign of layoffs, reducing the workforce to 20 people, compared to the hundred employees that counted in 2015. 

The list of institutions receiving the PPP is vast and can be viewed at this link. There are also art-orientated magazines such as Artnet (between 1 million and 2 million dollars) and the mythical Artforum, (between 350 thousand to 1 million dollars). 

Cover image: SFMOMA, San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art.

Written by Elisabetta Rastelli

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