NASAA Notes: September 2020


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Feby Emelio

September issue
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September 2, 2020

New Jersey, Missouri, Nebraska: COVID-19 Guidance for Resuming Arts Activities

Arts and culture play a vital role in crisis recovery and collective well-being. There is currently a high level of interest in learning how to reopen the arts sector after the programming reductions forced by COVID-19. However, resuming arts activities and reopening cultural venues require addressing a kaleidoscope of ever-changing circumstances. Reopening practices necessitate taking into account evolving public health factors, state and local requirements and legal considerations, as well as the effects of COVID-19 on programming and art making. State arts agencies play an important role in recommending resources and providing guidance on how to serve the public while staying safe. The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Missouri Arts Council and the Nebraska Arts Council are taking creative approaches to this challenge. For more examples of arts reopening models from state arts agencies and other experts, visit NASAA’s COVID-19 Resources for State Arts Agencies page.

New Jersey

Poster from the September Ready Arts Education Report, courtesy Arts Ed NJ

In this unique time, arts educators are modifying their practices not only in teaching, but in classroom orientation, cleaning, spacing and management. As a contributing member of the Arts Ed NJ collective impact steering committee, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts collaborated with key arts education stakeholders and arts and cultural nonprofit organizations for an important reopening resource produced and led by Arts Ed NJ. This resource provides practical guidance for K-12 schools seeking to provide meaningful arts instruction for students of all ages and grade levels during COVID-19. It describes how teachers can address these needs in order to maintain safe and meaningful arts learning to support the artistic, academic, social and emotional development of students, schools and communities. This guide also helps the state continue to uphold its core policy principles found in the New Jersey Student Learning Standards in the Visual and Performing Arts, which require all students to have access to sequential and standards based arts instruction throughout their schooling. The report offers helpful tips on scheduling, facilities, social distancing requirements, technology considerations for remote learning and more. The report also provides a unique perspective and resources for schools to continue vital partnerships with teaching artists and New Jersey arts and cultural organizations to support professional development, culturally responsive curricula, trauma informed education, family engagement, etc. The report further recommends including arts educators in policy conversations for developing additional guidance for New Jersey schools. For more information, contact New Jersey State Council on the Arts Program Officer Porché Hardy.


ArtSafe Certification website banner, by Ian Burt on Flickr

The Missouri Arts Council in partnership with the Missouri Arts Safety Alliance, a coalition of organizations throughout the state, launched the Missouri ArtSafe Certification Program. This initiative propagates best practices in producing art for the public during the pandemic by providing training, universal guidelines, certification and promotion. The no-cost participation program is designed for any arts-focused organizations—nonprofit and for-profits of any size—that are presenting, producing or serving the arts in Missouri. Organizations can become certified by pledging and adhering to a core level of safe practices that include facial coverings, social distancing, health checks, contact tracing, enhanced sanitation and training in COVID-19 safe practices. This is a self-assessment based certification wherein participants commit to training frontline staff, creating a COVID-19 plan and submitting a pledge to be approved for certification. The plan will thereafter be evaluated to ensure that it addresses all of the universal measures. Once the requirements have been submitted (training, plan and pledge) applicants can expect a response within 10 business days. Each registered organization will receive free online video training, support in developing a safe reopening plan and certification when it pledges to meet Missouri ArtSafe standards. For more information, contact Missouri Arts Council Executive Director Michael Donovan.


Nebraska Arts Council Roster Artist Daniel Martinez performs virtually. Photo by Daniel Martinez

Recognizing that many events in 2020 and 2021 will need to be reconceived due to COVID-19, the Nebraska Arts Council (NAC) retooled its regular grant programs for fiscal year 2020, shifting dollars to support the programming adaptations of arts organizations, schools and community groups. This effort was designed to help Nebraska arts organizations resume robust public programming even if some physical venues must stay closed. Among the new grant programs are these:

  • Virtual Arts Project Grants provide access to funds that support a variety of arts projects that are conducted online. They support virtual arts projects for the general public (such as online exhibitions, performances, poetry readings and development of new artworks) and virtual arts projects for schools (including online workshops, classes, performances and guided art tours). Applicants may request up to $3,000. Virtual Arts Project Grants do not require a cash match.
  • Virtual Artists in Schools/Communities Grants provide funds to hire artists from the NAC Teaching Artist Roster to lead sessions conducted online. The sessions offer a platform for artists to share expertise with participants through creative and educational demonstrations, performances, or guided arts activities in a variety of disciplines. Applicants may request up to $1,100 per artist contract, with no cash match required.
  • Virtual Nebraska Touring Program Sponsor Grants help sponsor organizations fund virtual performances or exhibits selected from the NAC Touring Artist Roster. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Virtual performances and exhibitions occur without direct contact between audience members while providing arts engagement for Nebraskans—and gig revenue for performers. NAC can fund up to $1,000 of the contracted artist fee per contract, per application, with no match required.

To learn more about Virtual Arts Project Grants, contact Nebraska Arts Council Program Specialist Anne Alston; Virtual Artists in Schools/Communities Grants, contact Nebraska Arts Council Program Coordinator Linda Hilliar; and Virtual Nebraska Touring Program Sponsor Grants, contact Nebraska Arts Council Program Coordinator Stephanie Plummer.

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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