NASAA Notes: April 2020

April 7, 2020

Massachusetts, Delaware, Rhode Island: Sustaining Public Engagement during COVID-19

Cultural participation is a crucial ingredient for maintaining social cohesion, bolstering community resiliency and finding hope during times of crisis. To help artists and arts organizations facilitate arts engagement despite widespread COVID-19 lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, many state arts agencies are promoting virtual arts events that allow individuals and families to experience the arts online. Massachusetts, Delaware and Rhode Island offer useful examples.

Massachusetts: Staying Connected Showcase

Healing Hands, public art project by Karyn Alzayer. Photo by Karyn Alzayer

Local arts agencies, cultural organizations and individual artists across Massachusetts have been using technology in innovative ways to engage with each other and to provide relief to the broader community. The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) is propagating those strategies by publishing a web based showcase of cultural constituents rising to the COVID-19 challenge. MCC staff harvested examples from the arts field then curated a selection of examples to share that exemplify best practices in operations, community engagement and public value. Models include organizations using online meeting platforms for rapid decision making, artists offering interactive public art projects, and designers providing open-source models for new medical gear and protective equipment. For more information, contact MCC Program Officer Timothea Pham.

Delaware: Online Arts & Cultural Resources

Image courtesy of the Delaware Division of the Arts

DelawareScene is a comprehensive, up-to-date calendar featuring Delaware’s arts and cultural events and attractions. Developed and maintained by the Delaware Division of the Arts (DDoA), DelawareScene provides a centralized source for promoting public cultural events across the state. Although live events have been widely canceled due to COVID-19, the agency has developed an Online Arts & Cultural Resources feature designed to promote digital arts participation opportunities for families and individuals who are confined due to the pandemic. Delaware cultural institutions are featuring online tours, virtual collections, teaching artist resources, podcasts, discussion forums and more. Biweekly email updates promote listings to the public. In addition, community partners can embed DelawareScene event listings onto their own websites. Learn more about the calendar platform by contacting DDoA Program Officer, Communications and Marketing, Leeann Wallett.

Rhode Island: Virtual Arts Advocacy Day

To maintain high levels of civic engagement despite social distancing restrictions, the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) organized a virtual state arts advocacy day. The event consisted of four virtual arts advocacy meetings between members of Congress and the Rhode Island arts community. The Council had an opportunity to virtually meet with Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI), Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI).

The online rendezvous provided an excellent opportunity for arts leaders to participate who otherwise would not have been able to travel to Washington, D.C. Each call was facilitated by RISCA’s executive director and included four different speakers who expressed their thanks to the legislators and shared their stories and concerns around the COVID-19 situation. About 30 members of the local arts community attended each virtual meeting. Additionally, RISCA shared its state dashboard from Americans for the Arts’s COVID-19 Economic Impact Survey. Participants underscored the economic importance of the creative economy and the role that the arts play in fostering community cohesion and resilience during times of trauma. To find out more about the meetings, contact RISCA Executive Director Randall Rosenbaum.