Letter from NYC Commissioner Anne del Castillo

Dear Friends,

The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME), along with the rest of New York City government, continues to work overtime to do whatever we can to help keep you informed about the ongoing COVID-19 emergency.

As you may know, last Friday, the federal government passed its third stimulus package, the CARES Act. When implemented, it will provide relief in the form of tax rebates, expanded and extended unemployment benefits, and support for small businesses and workers and for the arts and humanities.

In the meantime, we would like to remind you of the city resources available, along with some updates.

  • The NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) has opened up applications for the Small Business Continuity Fund which offers businesses with fewer than 100 employees the opportunity to apply for zero interest loans of up to $75,000 to help mitigate losses in profit. They continue to accept applications for the Employee Retention Grant Program, which offers small businesses with fewer than 5 employees, including non-profits, a grant to cover 40% of payroll costs for two months to help retain employees.

  • MOME is also gathering information about the impact of COVID-19 on our creative industries and nighttime economy. The Office of Nightlife has created a Survey for Nightlife Workers, Freelancers, and Businesses Impacted by COVID-19. The survey is now available in 12 languages to encourage participation and ensure broad representation from the field, and is due Friday, April 3 at 5pm ET. In the coming days, we will be launching another survey to include additional sectors of the media and entertainment industry.

  • Freelancers Union has created a survey for freelancers to gauge how COVID-19 is impacting their work and their lives. While the survey is national, MOME will be working with Freelancers Union to review responses from New York City and communicate feedback to City Hall, as well as state and federal government, to inform policy recommendations. Freelancers Union is also establishing the Freelancers Relief Fund to support freelancers impacted by the pandemic. The fund will offer financial assistance of up to $1,000 per household to cover lost income and essential expenses not covered by government relief programs, including food/food supplies, utility payments, and cash assistance for income loss. Applications for funding will open on April 2, 2020.

  • Due to COVID-19, the City has reduced or suspended certain non-essential agency services. A full list of city agency service updates is available here.

  • Our colleagues at NYC & Company have launched Virtual NYC to highlight ways to experience the City’s iconic cultural and entertainment scene virtually for people seeking an escape in light of the current global COVID-19 situation. The site features a roundup of online features from museums, galleries, comedy clubs, theatres, and other venues.

  • Due to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on New York City’s workforce, the City of New York has developed a list of resources for those who may be unemployed due to COVID-19 or are seeking additional assistance. In addition, ACCESSNYC is a city-run portal for NYC residents to determine their eligibility for more than 30 economic programs and benefits.

  • The City has prepared a list of the different ways to help the City’s COVID-19 relief efforts:

  • For those who wish to seek support and assistance during this very difficult time, NYC Well is available 24/7 to connect New Yorkers to a range of free mental health support services. They can be reached by calling 1-888-NYC-Well (692-9355) or texting “WELL” to 65173. In addition, they offer a new guide which includes information on how New Yorkers can access mental health services while staying home, by phone or online.

  • The latest updates on the City’s response to COVID-19, including recent guidance for the public, businesses, and facilities, information for those who may be unemployed to due COVID-19, and resources for those in specific professions, are available at NYC.gov/coronavirus or by calling 311 (212-639-9675 for Video Relay Service, or TTY: 212-504-4115). You can also text “COVID” to 692-692 for updates and information, or text “COVIDESP” to 692-692 for updates in Spanish.

You can also access all these links and more on MOME’s website – www.nyc.gov/mome.

Finally, we encourage everyone to fill out the Census. Census information is used to determine New York City’s fair share of billions of dollars in funds for hospitals, healthcare, schools, affordable housing, infrastructure and more — as well as the number of seats we have in Congress. In the 2010 Census, the city’s self-response rate was less than 62%, compared to the national average of 76%. We need every New Yorker to participate to ensure that their community is counted.

As always, feel free to reach out at any time with questions, concerns or for support.

Stay strong and be safe.


Anne del Castillo
Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment

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