NASAA Notes: April 2023

April 4, 2023

Are You Ready If Disaster Strikes?

As I write, I’m thinking about recent devastating weather events and their impact on arts communities and communities generally. As our friends in rain-soaked parts of California and the tornado-stricken areas of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia determine how best to move forward, I know that state arts agencies are showing up for their communities dealing with the aftermath of these disasters and others.

Not so long ago, Kentucky faced two of the worst weather related disasters in the state’s history, and the Kentucky Arts Council (KAC) continues to respond to the ensuing needs of artists and organizations still working to rebuild. I have recently been inspired by the work of KAC’s Emily Moses, executive staff advisor and the agency’s lead in responding to disasters. She, the good folks at NCAPER (the National Coalition for Arts’ Preparedness and Emergency Response) and I are discussing the cumulative losses the arts field has sustained from disasters. Our field has lost so much, and there’s still much to do to move forward arts readiness, responses and recovery to mitigate loss from disasters yet to unfold.

To stimulate field conversations about this important issue, Emily and the Kentucky Arts Council have organized a series of national panel discussions designed to provide critical insight and information about disaster and emergency management in the arts. NASAA is proud to partner with KAC by joining the conversation and hosting the sixth of six convenings about arts readiness and response, and I invite you to connect to this discussion and important learning opportunity. A snapshot of the series, Emergencies, Disasters and the Arts: A Series from the Kentucky Arts Council, can be found below:

  • April 18: Who do you call when disasters strike, creating devastation and loss for artists, arts organizations and the arts and culture community? Meet Jan Newcomb with the National Coalition for Arts’ Preparedness and Emergency Response, and Tom Clareson with Performing Arts Readiness, to learn about the networks of resources and expertise available nationally following a disaster. Hear why readiness and response planning is important to implement now, and have your questions answered about these organizations that are necessary components in your emergency response toolkit.
  • May 23: CERF+ serves artists by providing a safety net to support strong and sustainable careers. CERF+ Executive Director Ruby Lopez Harper and Program Manager Cameron Baxter Lewis join us to share about the supply of resources available for artists across the nation to safeguard their livelihood.
  • June 21: It’s indisputable that data makes a difference in advancing support for arts and culture at the local, state and national levels. And yet, no comprehensive national data around disasters and emergencies in the arts exists. Join University of Kentucky researcher Leah Hamilton and Houston Arts Alliance Emergency and Disaster Response Director Lauren Hainley to learn about two studies that make the case for data collection resulting in strong recommendations to move forward the field of arts emergency readiness, response and recovery.
  • July 26: When the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) responds to a large-scale disaster, what resources are available for the arts? Meet FEMA Heritage Emergency National Task Force Director Lori Foley to hear about why arts and cultural institutions need to advocate for our sector to make sure that federal support available is federal support received. Also chat with Elaina Gregg, coordinator of the National Heritage Responders, and delve into the world of conservation assistance offered in response to the needs of cultural institutions and the public during emergencies and disasters.
  • August 23: Seven months separated two of the worst weather related disasters in Kentucky history, both resulting in significant devastation and loss for the arts community. Hear from those who experienced the tornadoes and floods and how these organizations and individual artists are navigating the response and rebuilding process.
  • September 14 (hosted by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies): We all know—either from experience or from the headlines—that unexpected circumstances can cause devastating loss for communities and the organizations that serve them. Circumstances can range from severe weather conditions to technology failure to unspeakable violence. State arts agencies can be leaders in the face of disaster. This session features three state arts agencies that have been in the position of leading their constituents after encountering disaster. We’ll hear about their experiences and engage in learning that will help to ensure you and your constituents are not caught off guard when tragedy strikes, but rather can step into action and help restore community well-being.

On a related note, to aid in the development of resilience guidance FEMA is working to gather input from a broad range of stakeholders by hosting six 60-minute listening sessions in April, May and June. Based on the input from the listening sessions, FEMA will draft national resilience guidance that incorporates stakeholder feedback. This is an opportunity to recommend inclusion of the arts within that guidance.

The FEMA listening sessions will explore topics such as:

  • the actions and partnerships that are needed to increase resilience
  • chronic community stressors and their impacts on community readiness
  • the roles and responsibilities of whole-community stakeholders
  • innovative approaches for successful disaster resilience planning
  • the resources needed to help the whole community understand and execute their roles

I invite you to join the conversations that will help the arts field more ably navigate disaster and emergency management in the future.

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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