NASAA Notes: March 2024

March 13, 2024

FEMA Cutting Red Tape for Artists, Comments Invited

Our friends at National Coalition for Arts Preparedness and Emergency Response (NCAPER) and Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF+) have long been leading advocates for federal disaster assistance reforms for the arts. Particularly during the last three years, as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has positioned itself to enact significant reforms to its individual assistance program, NCAPER and CERF+ have stayed the course to help ensure that artists are included in FEMA’s upcoming changes.

FEMA’s goals for its changes position the agency to establish new benefits, cut red tape, expand eligibility and simplify the application process. Its 11 distinct strategies to help disaster survivors recover faster include a strategy that is particularly germane to artists: simplifying access to assistance for entrepreneurs. Changes will be enacted so that entrepreneurs, gig workers and other self-employed individuals can more easily get back to work after a disaster. Self-employed people will no longer be required to apply for a Small Business Association (SBA) disaster loan to cover business losses. New regulations will allow FEMA to provide self-employed workers with funding to replace disaster-damaged tools, equipment, computers, books and more—items needed to resume daily work. The agency’s handy one-pager on its reforms can be found here: FEMA Reforms Disaster Assistance to Help Survivors. Per our colleagues at FEMA, these are the largest rule changes to the individual assistance program in over 20 years.New rules will be in effect on March 22, 2024, so disasters that occur on March 22 or after can be covered by FEMA. It’s important to understand that resources will be available to respond to federally declared disasters. When disaster strikes, state and jurisdictional governors must request a federal disaster declaration; when they do, they must identify the need for individual assistance (in addition to public assistance). When the federal government approves the request and declares the disaster, resources can then be available for FEMA to respond.

FEMA will be accepting public comments on its changes to the program until July 22, 2024. This means that interested parties have a voice in helping FEMA finalize the regulations and how they’ll be implemented. It’s important to remember that this will be new for FEMA. This will be the first time artists can apply for financial support from the individual assistance program to replace disaster-damaged tools and equipment, for example, so comments that shine a light on necessary tools of the trade can be valuable to FEMA as it navigates responding to applications from individual artists. Artists can be better served by the program if the arts community provides public comments that can help FEMA understand the needs of artists.

NCAPER, CERF+ and FEMA are working together to help the arts community understand and navigate the upcoming changes. You can find near-term opportunities below:

  • Provide feedback on the changes. Soon, NCAPER will be sharing guidelines here on how interested parties can provide comments to FEMA.
  • Plan to attend and promote two upcoming webinars for the field:

April 15, 2 p.m. Eastern: For artists and creatives—what these changes mean for you and how to be prepared so you can access assistance when you need it

June 10, 2 p.m. Eastern: For the entire field—updates on the changes and how to help provide guidance to FEMA for its program rollout and implementation

Registration links will be available soon here.

  • Contact NCAPER for help with understanding the impact of these changes, or for help sharing them with your stakeholders and constituents.

For full documentation of FEMA’s upcoming changes, please see this section of the Federal Register.

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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