NASAA Notes: October 2021


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Pam Breaux

October issue
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October 4, 2021

NASAA's Road for FY2022: Advocacy, Equity, Recovery, Community

It is October 2021, the beginning of autumn and nearly two years after COVID-19 made its debut in our country. With vaccinations slowly and pretty steadily on the rise, arts venues that were once shuttered reopening, students resuming in-school learning, and the workforce heading back to the office, I find myself wondering what the new normal, in our country and around the world, will be.

And then I stop when I remember that my lack of a crystal ball makes it impossible to predict what the future will hold, especially given that there’s no consensus about what a new normal should be. However, here is what’s certain at NASAA: our draft action plan for fiscal year 2022 is resolute and our mission is unwavering. As the professional association of the nation’s 56 state and jurisdictional arts agencies (SAAs), we will work harder than ever to strengthen our members and champion public support for arts in America. Rest assured, NASAA is keeping your best interests as our North Star as we move forward. While SAA leaders will receive a draft of the FY2022 Action Plan in their October 28 Business Bash materials, you’ll also be able to find the draft online, and I’d like to share next year’s priorities, as well as a few highlights of what you can expect (pending member approval of the plan).


When federal pandemic relief ends, many states will need to negotiate competing fiscal and political pressures, putting discretionary spending at risk. NASAA will help state arts agencies and advocates make a compelling case for the arts as a necessary investment of public funds. We’ll ramp up communications to key policy audiences, providing rigorous evidence and messages proven to appeal across the political spectrum.

Highlights include:

  • Expanding our research collaborations to provide new, credible evidence that members and advocates can cite to advance the arts in public policy
  • Facilitating purposeful and strategic conversations with influential messengers and key appropriators to deepen arts advocacy relationships and results


NASAA will equip state arts agencies to navigate the policy and practice—and politics—of equity. Through models, training and leadership by example, NASAA will help SAAs reduce individual and institutional biases and make the arts more accessible to all. These activities are integrated across all four of NASAA’s goals and propel our work toward greater diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

Highlights include:

  • Enhancing our Visualizing Equity in Grant Making service to incorporate new geographic detail and make available public-facing versions of the data (at the direction of member states)
  • Collecting and circulating SAA DEI plans and related metrics and benchmarks to inform SAA DEI action planning
  • Convening a second virtual Creative Aging Institute for all SAAs and their creative aging partners to deepen knowledge about creative aging and prepare participants to combat ageism


As we all navigate the myriad effects of COVID-19, NASAA will support state arts agency efforts to rebuild the arts sector and contribute to community and economic recovery. We’ll serve as a clearinghouse for models of creative strategies being adopted by states and will highlight cross-sector collaborations that demonstrate the benefits of including the arts in comprehensive recovery efforts.

Highlights include:

  • Alerting members to relevant recovery resources as they are available and administered by various federal agencies
  • Sharing programmatic and policy models of how state governments and SAAs are deploying federal relief funds for creative industries recovery and for economic and community recovery through the arts


Connections with other state arts agencies and NASAA provide a wealth of information as well as a lifeline of support. To bolster the state arts agency community, NASAA will continue our virtual learning and year-round peer group dialogues. 2022 also will mark the return of physical convenings, when members gather in person for NASAA Assembly 2022.

Highlights include:

  • Supporting newly appointed executive directors by convening our 2022 boot camp with an agenda tailored to meet their needs
  • Cultivating a state arts agency community of practice by convening peer and affinity groups for conversations that empower them to learn from each other
  • Organizing an engaging 2022 NASAA Assembly in beautiful Kansas City, Missouri, enabling members to come back together next fall for a face-to-face convening—how sweet that will be!

Although there’s a lot we can’t predict about next year, we can certainly marshal our resources to impact positively and productively those we serve. That is what’s up at NASAA, and I know that is what’s up at SAAs.

Closing with a bit of inspiration, it’s always helpful to turn to the poets to help us consider our paths. In Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken,” are we challenged to bravely follow our own paths into the unknown, or to question the paths we’ve taken in the past? Or perhaps both? It’s up to you decide. However, as we move forward in the new fiscal year, let us concentrate not on the roads less traveled in FY2021; instead, let’s focus on new beginnings and the opportunities to meet our public purpose goals in FY2022.

An excerpt from “The Road Not Taken”

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves, no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

~Robert Frost

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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