Coalition for Artists' Preparedness and Emergency Response

Published in: GIA Reader, Vol 19, No 1 (Spring 2008), 2007 Conference Proceedings

Cornelia Carey
A working session to review the Coalition's draft publication, "A National Blueprint for Emergency Preparedness, Relief and Recovery for Artists," and other Coalition works in progress. Also, discussion of a draft plan to give grantmakers better resources for learning about emergency readiness, response, and recovery, and to improve and coordinate safety nets for artists during regional or national emergencies.

Cornelia Carey, Craft Emergency Relief Fund (moderator); Carolyn Somers, Joan Mitchell Foundation (interlocutor).

In the first half hour, Coalition members provided updates on the various working group projects and discussed the most recent draft of the Blueprint document. The following notes are from the second part of the meeting, a working session to create an action plan for the Coalition's Funding and Resource Development Work Group.

Participants were asked what challenges funders face as they work with grantees to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. Participants also were asked to describe solutions to these challenges, which would be turned into an action plan for the Funding and Resource Development Working Group.

Structural, Communication, and Coordination Problems

  • Decisions about disaster funding fall outside of most grantmakers' regular program areas, and in-house staff expertise typically is limited. Lacking a disaster management plan, both ends of the spectrum—preparedness and long-term recovery—suffer.
  • Information about the nature of artists' needs in a disaster is lacking.
  • When a disaster hits, grantmakers have no formal structure for sharing information or obtaining arts-related disaster information.
  • After disasters, too much duplication of relief efforts exists among arts funders and not enough coordination and collaboration.
  • Larger foundations that provide support in many areas often view the arts as nonessential or not a priority when they fund disaster relief.
  • We may burden our grantees—already under significant strain after emergencies—with multiple funding options, multiple applications forms, and requests for the same information over and over.
  • The NEA and more than 50 percent of the state arts agencies cannot give directly to artists, so they often are excluded from post-disaster funding.
  • Disaster funding is significantly different and inconsistent depending on locale, region, medium, and disaster type.
  • We don't know where artists get their information in disaster situations. If it's from intermediary organizations that they trust, who are the intermediaries?

Solutions

  • From experience, the arts community understands what works in disaster situations. Their experiences need to be documented, shared, and used as models. For example, through the Department of Labor, the Mississippi Arts Commission provided $5,000 Business Recovery Grants to artists for emergency relief, a total of $750,000. To receive the grants, artists had to participate in a business recovery training session. The Mississippi Arts Commission also developed a matrix of cultural institutions' needs after Katrina, which they shared with funders. New project possibility: Document past solutions/models.
  • Create a space on the GIA web site to post resources, reports, sample guidelines for arts funders interested in knowing more about funding preparedness, emergency relief, and recovery. Target Date: ? Budget: ?
  • GIA might consider hiring a coordinator to serve as a point person after significant disasters such as hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This person could post updates and help coordinate and facilitate cooperation and collaboration among arts funders.
  • Keep the topic of artists' preparedness and emergency response on the GIA conference agenda. Keep GIA involved, perhaps by briefing the GIA board.
  • Encourage grantmakers to have flexible documentation requirements for artists receiving disaster funding.
  • Identify blockages and impediments to responding to disaster situations in existing arts programs. What might be learned from disaster response plans in the health field? Develop incentives to encourage artists and arts organizations to plan for disasters.
  • After Hurricane Katrina, the Mississippi Arts Commission created a foundation to receive donations. What are other solutions that achieve the same end?
  • It is important to map how and where artists get information. Look into Joan Jeffri's strategy of reaching artists. Talk to Marie Cieri, a geographer at Ohio State who has worked with artists. Consider Andrew Taylor's mapping system. Look at examples where individuals or organizations reached out to artists and determine how well those strategies worked. Understand what the impediments were.
  • Inventory artist registries. What's out there? What information do they collect? How many artists participate? How are artists updated?
  • Survey GIA members, arts funders, and the fifty largest local arts councils (perhaps state arts agencies as well) about their own preparedness and how they work with grantees on preparedness. Also determine how interested these agencies and funders are in the Coalition's work.