NASAA Notes: November 2020


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Pam Breaux

November issue
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November 3, 2020

President's Message and a Salute to You—the Stars!

During NASAA’s virtual 2020 Business Bash, I delivered this message to NASAA members—who are stars in the arts and creativity galaxy—followed by a heartfelt toast.

Have you ever heard the expression: It’s only during the night that you can see the stars? Across the country and across the globe, we have endured more than a fair share of dark and difficult skies, particularly during these last seven months. A global pandemic stopped us in our tracks and gave way to emergency forced closures, illness and loss—loss of life, loss of livelihoods, loss of physical connection and loss of movement across our daily lives that we took for granted.

As spring continued, our nation reeled and was outraged over the murders of numerous Black men and women. We continue to bear witness to the grave impacts of long-standing structural and systemic racism and too many painful inequities that plague our nation.

Then this summer gave way to more natural disasters. We endured catastrophic wildfires on the West Coast, epic and disastrous hurricanes in the South, and more.

But state arts agencies share common qualities with the stars that light the night skies. The unwavering stars, giving their light and energy, offer navigation and direction for travelers to chart the course. Like the Polynesian voyagers before us who relied on their celestial glow for centuries as they navigated the Pacific waters, stars offer inspiration and wayfinding for those of us who dream of the kind of future we want not just for ourselves, but for future generations.

State arts agencies have occupied a similar space, especially during these last few months, providing much needed light, energy, wayfinding and resources to the arts community to navigate dark days. During the past several months, we’ve seen state arts agencies demonstrate ingenuity, unwavering and tenacious, in support of arts communities. We’ve seen you:

  • launch multifaceted relief efforts to help stabilize the field;
  • retrofit grants programs, making them faster, more flexible and responsive to new realities, as you distributed state and federal CARES Act funding to artists and organizations;
  • center equity within grant making by prioritizing grants to rural communities, people of color, LGBTQ+ populations, individuals with disabilities, veteran populations and high-poverty communities;
  • activate online marketplaces and help artists and arts organizations create new strategies to sustain public engagement;
  • conduct state arts impact research and ramp up a multitude of virtual convenings for the field, bringing them together for much needed connection to each other, as well as for professional development to help ready them for a new day.

State arts agencies have mounted and managed more than 200 distinct programmatic responses to COVID-19, serving communities across the country. All this, and you’re now navigating the gray space where immediate relief and longer-term recovery coexist, because both are now critically needed by the field. Your longer-term recovery efforts already include a pivot to curating reopening resources and guidance for local stakeholders, opening doors to new long-term finance strategies for nonprofits, and mounting learning series to spark strategic action in resource building and capacity building for arts comebacks. Again, like the stars, you’re providing light, energy and direction to arts communities in search of their place in the new normal, or perhaps in the new abnormal.

Has it only been seven months?

When I observe our field, I see your fierce determination to advance the work out of love of community, state and country, and out of a deep appreciation for the many gifts the arts bring to community. Your dedication to COVID relief and recovery for the arts is in plain sight, as are your continuing efforts to lift up arts communities during this season of unprecedented change. You continue to rise to each circumstance with unwavering and steadfast service. There is certainly difficult work ahead; arts field recovery will be a long road, and it’s one we’ll journey together. In this moment, I encourage you to reflect on the difference you’re already making, and let it fortify you for the road ahead.

My Salute to NASAA Members

Now, are we ready for a toast?! Please unmute yourselves, make some noise, clap your hands. Let me know you’re ready for a toast! (And make the folks at home wonder what’s up with this business meeting!)

Way back in the day, as the good monk Dom Perignon, quite by accident, created the sparkly goodness we now know as champagne, he poured the first glass, was amazed by the bubbles and remarked, “I see stars!”

In your honor I’m toasting each of you today with champagne; my glass is filled with stars because my Zoom feed is now filled with stars! Like the stars, you’re lighting the way for artists, organizations and communities all across the country. Especially during the past seven months, the heart and soul of your work has been so remarkable—and you’re making a much-needed difference all across the country! YOU are our super stars, and I’m honored to raise a glass to your health, wellness and inspired work moving forward! Cheers, everyone!

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

State to State

Legislative Update

The Research Digest

Announcements and Resources

More Notes from NASAA




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