NASAA Notes: May 2020

May 7, 2020

Indiana, Massachusetts: Stabilizing the Arts during (and after) COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic will have wide-ranging ripple effects for the creative sector. Artists and arts organizations must not only adapt to immediate losses of income, they also must reposition themselves for an uncertain future. Many state arts agencies are organizing technical assistance and education programs designed to support sound planning as well as present-day triage. Indiana and Massachusetts offer two good examples.

Indiana: Persevering through Professional Development

The Indiana Arts Commission is taking a broad look at the arts ecosystem through its Persevering: The Arts and COVID-19 professional development program. Through a rolling series of video training modules, this program helps any Indiana artist or organization to understand their current environment and adjust their practices—financial and programmatic—to new realities that may emerge even after restrictions on commerce and travel are lifted.

Attorneys, financial planners, educators and experts in marketing are joining IAC and cultural leaders from around the state to offer insights and advice. Topics covered include:

  • methods for estimating business losses due to COVID-19
  • understanding changes to Indiana’s unemployment and tax policies
  • securing housing assistance during COVID-19
  • digital marketing strategies
  • how artists can protect their intellectual property when transitioning their work online
  • adapting education programming to virtual classroom experiences

In addition to a video archive, a variety of worksheets and slide decks accompany each session and IAC is making the Q&A chat transcripts available. To find out more, contact Indiana Arts Commission Director of Marketing and Communications Bridget Eckert.

Massachusetts: Safe Harbors Program

The Safe Harbors Program empowers Massachusetts cultural organizations to assess their current financial situation, create an actionable road map for the future and determine their eligibility for various COVID-19 relief funds. Led by the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) in collaboration with the Nonprofit Finance Fund, this initiative includes virtual learning and online resources coupled with capacity building coaching services.

The program is open to MCC Cultural Investment Portfolio and Gateway grantees. These groups will receive a supplement to their existing operating support awards from the state. This cohort will go through an online learning program addressing the key topics of:

  • navigating changes in federal and state policy
  • assessing current and future cash flow needs
  • adjusting operational plans
  • navigating complex decision making

Participants in the Safe Harbors program have access to coaching from Nonprofit Finance Fund advisors. Advisors will help organizations to develop financial strategies and craft financial narratives to support conversations with key stakeholders including donors, lenders and the public. In one-on-one and small-group sessions, Safe Harbors organizations will receive help in goal setting and creating consensus among senior leadership, board members and staff. In addition to imparting expertise, the coaching component provides leadership support for the Massachusetts cultural network, allowing organizations to share lessons learned and to leverage each other’s expertise. To learn more about the program, access the session recording and material or contact a member of Mass Cultural Council’s Cultural Investment Portfolio Program Team.