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COVID-19 Resources for State Arts Agencies

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is creating unprecedented challenges for the cultural sector. NASAA is witnessing tremendous ingenuity and generosity as communities strive to stay safe and healthy—and engaged with each other through the arts.

State arts agencies are essential facilitators of the arts field’s COVID-19 response. The resources below—tailored specifically to the needs and roles of state arts agencies—offer useful guidance for state arts agencies and other public arts funders as they develop more policies and practices to address the COVID-19 landscape.


State Arts Agency Programs

State arts agencies are launching many new programs in response to the COVID-19 crisis. They are distributing relief funds, retooling ongoing grants, promoting virtual arts engagement, and offering a host of technical assistance and training services to help artists and arts organizations adapt to the challenges presented by the pandemic. See some examples here:

State to State Articles: COVID-19

NASAA staff has cataloged hundreds of additional examples showing how state arts agencies are creatively adjusting their programs and services to address COVID-19. Members can access more models by contacting Feby Emelio.


Supplemental Appropriations for COVID-19

As COVID-19 continues to disrupt the economy at large, many states are in the process of allocating supplemental CARES Act funding to support state arts agencies, arts and culture organizations, and creative businesses. These allocations are often appropriated through the legislature or created through executive action and are distributed as grants. For inquiries on COVID-19 supplemental allocations for arts and culture, including examples of state arts agency requests for funding and grant programs, contact NASAA Research Associate Declan Wicks.


Reopening Resources

Most governors have initiated multiphase plans to reopen. Timetables for the arts vary, but a common thread is that the arts field is taking charge of formulating industry-specific guidelines for the safe resumption of cultural activity. Other state policies are still on the drawing board. When developing guidance for your own constituents, the following resources may be useful.


State Examples

Communication Recommendations for Arts Organizations (Maryland State Arts Council)

Reopening Resources: Ideas from the field for Colorado Arts & Culture (Colorado Creative Industries)

Connecticut’s Arts & Culture Industry Guidelines for Operating during COVID-19 (Connecticut Department of Community and Economic Development, Office of the Arts)

Missouri ArtSafe Certification (Missouri Arts Council)

Guide to Reopen the Arts (North Carolina Arts Council)

Operating during COVID-19: Considerations for Oklahoma Nonprofit Arts Organizations (Oklahoma Arts Council)

Reopening Safely: Tips and Resources to Prepare (Pennsylvania Council on the Arts)

Arts Reopening Guide (South Carolina Arts Alliance)


Arts Education Guidance

September Ready: Fall 2020 Guidance for Arts Education (Arts Ed NJ)

Recommendations for Arts Education as North Carolina Reopens Schools (Arts Education Leadership Coalition)

Arts & Physical Education Re-entry (Arizona Department of Eductation)

Arts Together: Planning Guidance for Arts Educators in Maryland Public Schools (Maryland State Department of Education)

COVID-19: Arts Education Guidance and Resources (Iowa Alliance for Arts Education)

Preparing for School Year 2020-21 (National Art Education Association)


Creative Industry Guidance

Considerations for Museum Reopenings (American Alliance of Museums)

Reopening the Cultural Sector in U.S. Cities (Bloomberg Philanthropies)

Reopening Guide (Event Safety Alliance)

Culture + Community in a Time of Crisis (LaPlaca Cohen)

Roadmap for Recovery and Resilience for Theater (A.R.T.)

Returning to Work Safely: Guidelines for Small Venues, Studios & Rehearsal Spaces (American Federation of Musicians)

Return to Dancing and Training Considerations Due to-COVID-19 (Dance|USA)

Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes (Centers for Disease Control)


Equity and Antidiscrimination 

Natural disasters and other public emergencies can inflame xenophobia and have a disproportionate impact on people of color, low-income communities, people with disabilities and other systemically marginalized populations. The following resources may assist state arts agencies when developing policies, programs and communications strategies during the COVID-19 crisis.

America, the Arts and Racial Injustice (Pam Breaux, NASAA)

NCAPER Recommended Principles for Arts Funding in the COVID-19 Crisis and in Other Crises (National Coalition for Arts’ Preparedness and Emergency Response)

Funding in the Time of COVID-19: Questions to Deepen Racial Equity (Philanthropy News Digest / Candid)

Keep Equity at the Forefront in Philanthropy’s Response to the Coronavirus (United Philanthropy Forum)

Viruses Don’t Discriminate and Neither Should We: Coronavirus and Stigma (King County, WA)

Combating Bias and Stigma Related to COVID-19 (American Psychological Association)

Countering COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Stigma and Racism: Tips for Parents and Caregivers (National Association of School Psychologists)


Facilitating Online Meetings

More state arts agencies (and their constituents) are moving staff teamwork, panels and community dialogues online. So it’s useful to bring extra consciousness to how we make virtual conversations inclusive, engaging and efficient. NASAA recommends these resources for starters:

Tips for Creating an Inclusive Virtual Space (The Aspen Institute)

Virtual Meeting Check-Ins & Icebreakers during A Pandemic (Beth Kanter)

How to Facilitate Effective Virtual Meetings (Beth Kanter)

Centering Equity & Inclusion during Virtual Meetings & Working from Home (Beloved Community)

Run Meetings That Are Fair to Introverts, Women, and Remote Workers (Harvard Business Review)

Working from Home While Black (Harvard Business Review)

How to Run a Great Virtual Meeting (Harvard Business Review)

Online Event Resources (Looking Glass Creative)

Resources to Help Ensure Accessibility of Your Virtual Events for People with Disabilities (National Endowment for the Arts)


Federal Policy

Arts Included in Federal Stimulus Bill (NASAA)

Apart from providing funding through the National Endowment for the Arts, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes many additional provisions that may be helpful to nonprofit arts organizations as well as independent artists, freelancers and creative gig workers. Good places to begin learning about these opportunities include:

Omnibus Bill Funds the Arts for FY2021 and Provides COVID-19 Relief (NASAA)

New Relief Bill Passes House, But Outlook Uncertain (NASAA)

NASAA Requests More Federal Aid to States and Jurisdictions (NASAA)

CARES Act: How to Apply for Nonprofit Relief Funds (Independent Sector)

Loans Available for Nonprofits in the CARES Act (National Council of Nonprofits)

What the CARES Act Means for Freelancers (Freelancers Union)

Federal Arts Funding Opportunities for Nonprofit and Commercial Arts Organizations and Individual Artists (Americans for the Arts)


NASAA Member Updates

Ongoing: State to State Articles: COVID-19

November 3, 2020 President’s Message and a Salute to You—the Stars!

June 5, 2020 States and COVID-19: Arts Reopening, Equity Strategies and More

May 18, 2020 New Relief Bill Passes House, But Outlook Uncertain

April 23, 2020 More Relief for Small Businesses—But Not for States

April 22, 2020 Unemployment Benefits for Self-Employed Artists, Gig Workers, etc.

April 21, 2020 State Policy, the Arts and COVID-19

April 15, 2020 Small Business Administration Loans Update

March 30, 2020 COVID-19: NASAA at Your Side

March 20, 2020 Contact Your Delegation Today: COVID-19 Arts Relief

March 10, 2020 Coronavirus Resources

This page was last updated on January 6, 2021. Please check this page often for new additions. If you have a resource you think it would be especially valuable to add, contact NASAA Communications Manager Sue Struve. If you are an artist or arts organization seeking support, please review the resources offered through your state arts agency.

COVID-19 coronavirus illustration by David S. Goodsell, RCSB Protein Data Bank. In addition to holding posts as a Professor of Computational Biology at the Scripps Research Institute and Research Professor at Rutgers University, Goodsell is a scientific illustrator with a signature style of painting. The image at the top of this page is a new illustration of the COVID-19 virus. Learn more about his process from this Forbes article.