NASAA Notes: April 2020

April 7, 2020

State Arts Agencies: Responsive and Resourceful

Dear friends,

I hope that today finds you and your families healthy and well. As America responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, state arts agencies (SAAs) are responding to its impact across the arts community. With creativity and grit, SAAs are retrofitting grant making and providing special services that are critical to arts stakeholders navigating the current environment. Standing up to the challenges this crisis brings, SAAs are demonstrating resiliency and a commitment to public service that inspire Team NASAA each day.

In this month’s issue of NASAA Notes, you’ll find examples of state arts agency responses to COVID-19: sustaining public engagement, virtual marketplaces, state impact research and grant adaptations. I invite you to explore strategies being implemented by your colleagues across states and jurisdictions; as we learn from each other, our own practices are strengthened, and that’s the core value of our national association.

As I mentioned in last week’s message to members, you can count on NASAA to be at your side as you navigate new realities. For SAAs collectively and individually, we’re on call and on point to be your resource, particularly in times of crisis. We’ve heard from many of you in recent weeks. Keep it coming! Whether we’re responding to individual requests or representing your interests as we advocate, your communication with our team ensures our good and strategic aim in service to SAAs. Also, please keep sharing your new strategies and models in response to the pandemic. They certainly inspire us, but more importantly, they help us serve all your SAA colleagues. Share your stories with Ryan Stubbs or Kelly Barsdate.

It takes our full team—board and staff—to ensure that strategies in service to SAAs are on point. The NASAA board of directors, hailing from 23 states and jurisdictions, represents you well. Led by the ever sage and steadfast Suzanne Wise, the board remains focused on your best interests. I’m pleased to invite you to read a message from NASAA Board Chair Suzanne Wise.

A Message from NASAA’s Board Chair

When the value of state and special jurisdiction arts agencies is measured in dollars, we comprise, on average, 0.049% of our state’s general fund (per NASAA’s FY2020 State Arts Agency Revenues Report)—not even enough to merit a sliver on a budget pie chart. On the other hand, when you measure our larger social value, a pie chart cannot adequately capture all that we do. We are the intellectual capital, counselors, communicators, collaborators, facilitators and cheerleaders of our industry.

What we are facing today has no playbook. In addition to the stress of managing the expectations of agency staff and an arts community that has never known this level of peril, we have the added stress of managing our own personal situations.

Despite these uncertainties, there is one thing I know for certain: The creativity of state and special jurisdiction arts agencies knows no bounds. We will find our path by doing what we do best. We will marshal our financial and social capital to uplift our arts community and the vital work that they are doing to salve our battered souls.

As you and your agency make your way through this unique challenge, know that NASAA will be with you every step of the way.




Suzanne Wise
Chair, NASAA Board of Directors
Executive Director, Nebraska Arts Council