Arts and Education Support During COVID-19
Mary Dell’Erba and Erika Hawthorne
There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and the many cancellations and shutdowns happening in response to it. Working through a crisis isn’t easy, and we applaud our colleagues for persevering to keep equitable access to arts education a priority as we adapt to a new normal.
At the Arts Education Partnership — a national network over 100 education, arts, cultural, government, research, business, and philanthropic organizations — we understand that this rapidly changing environment has shifted everyone’s priorities. To support our partners and stakeholders as they navigate these challenging times, we are maintaining a robust list of resources related to COVID-19. On the policy front, our colleagues at the Education Commission of the States are also tracking state policy responses to COVID-19 and sharing innovative responses from state and district leadership to support the continuity of education and support services.
We believe these resources demonstrate the innovation and creative leadership inherent to our community. Following, we share just a few examples of the responses — both financial and non-financial — we’re seeing across the arts and education ecosystem.
Support for Online Learning
As arts and education leaders work to ensure learners have access to quality experiences, we have seen an outpouring of resources for teachers transitioning to online learning. National service organizations — including the Educational Theatre Association, National Dance Education Organization, National Association for Music Educators, and the National Art Education Organization — are providing discipline-specific resources for educators. The National Associations of Elementary School Principals and Secondary School Principals are offering specific guidance for school leaders. And the Afterschool Alliance continues to collect insights for afterschool programs, including the continuation of afterschool meals to students.
The U.S. Department of Education has COVID-19 Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnel available, including resources for Higher Education Institutions, where many have transferred courses completely online and shifted to pass/fail models for grading during this pandemic.
Transitioning to Virtual Work Settings
AEP Partners, like Fractured Atlas, are offering tools for how to transition operations online including How to Transition to a Virtual Workplace Overnight. To connect peers via virtual gatherings, the National Guild for Community Arts Education created a series of online conversations and workshops focused on Human-Centered Approaches in a Time of Crisis.
The response from the arts and education community also includes emergency funding to help alleviate the financial burdens related to cancelations, shutdowns, and furloughs.
With the passing of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, federal agencies like the National Endowment for the Arts are swiftly publishing guidelines with condensed applications to enable a quick turnaround and support nonprofits and small businesses. Our partners at Americans for the Arts are using their platform to provide guidance on federal relief for the arts field. The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies has also shared examples of state responses to COVID-19, including sustaining public engagement, virtual marketplaces, state impact research, and grant adaptations.
Additionally, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering emergency funding through the Paycheck Protection Program (serving nonprofits, small businesses, and some individuals), and the Emergency Economic Injury Grants & Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.
We are also seeing more localized responses from foundations, including the Ford Foundation’s collaboration to launch the NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund, designed to support New York City’s nonprofits.
Some nonprofit organizations are working to galvanize support through fundraising to provide grants for individuals in the arts and education community, including the Arts Administrators of Color Network’s Emergency Fund, Springboard for the Arts’ Personal Emergency Relief Fund, and the ArtBridge Projects’ ArtBridge COVID-19 Artist Relief Fund to support NYC-based artists.
We are leaning on the grantmaking community to continue compiling and disseminating emergency funding opportunities that span all areas of the country, including funds for individuals and organizations impacted by COVID-19.
Preparing for What’s Next
At AEP, we recognize that the world looks different now, and the impact of this pandemic will be felt at all levels of the arts education ecosystem. Our team is here to help as we collectively work to re-build, adapt to our new normal, and shape what comes next for our field. We will continue to compile resources — like our recent report on Engaging the Arts Across the Juvenile Justice System — to build out our collective leadership capacity, and hope that they prompt us to keep students and colleagues in vulnerable situations at the forefront of our work.
Mary Dell’Erba is senior project manager at Arts Education Partnership.
Erika Hawthorne is engagement specialist at Arts Education Partnership.