Disaster Aid Provided by Arts Related Organizations
By Amy Schwartzman, Consultant, National Coalition for Arts Preparedness and Emergency Response
What kinds of help can I receive through the arts sector?
CERF Staff Meets With Artists in New Orleans, 2006
Information, education, money (grants and loans), counseling (career and personal), other social services, legal aid, art-related goods (paint, instruments, etc)., temporary housing (artist communities around the country do this), artist relocation programs (tax credits and other financial incentives), and in-kind donations.
How can I find this support after a disaster?
Do now: You may not have online access after a disaster, so check out the websites in Arts Sector Emergency Resources that offer collected information on emergency resources. Make written notes, including contact information, of those that could be useful. Review these periodically. Check provider websites to confirm information. (See also organizations and institutions listed under Salvaging Damaged Artwork and Resources for Treating Damaged Paper-Based Items).
Make sure that you have an up-to-date CV or resume, as many organizations to which you apply will require you to prove your status as an artist. You may or may not need to show income from your art; you will need to show that you are a professional artist, not a hobbyist or student. Exhibitions, awards, receipt of grants are some ways to demonstrate this. Some sources may also require you to prove financial need, so make sure you can locate tax returns, bank statements, or other suitable information, as well as insurance coverage. (See Safekeeping Your Business and Artistic Records.)
If disaster strikes: Monitor all relevant information sources, including word of mouth. Some of the databases cited in the Arts Sector Emergency Resources, particularly The Actors’ Fund and NYFASource, will update data as new resources arise. Check Twitter for relevant posts, and post your needs. Also contact your local, state and regional arts councils, and local artist service organizations, to see what they are doing.
Traditional media resources may provide important information, as may art-supply stores and other places where artists gather. Disaster resource centers in your community may know of arts-specific programs.
Attend information workshops. Contact those providing programs and apply. Some will help with only art-related needs, others with any needs caused by the disaster.
If you are seeking services or in-kind donations, there will likely be no or nominal application processes. Free goods and services may be posted on online boards.
If you are seeking help from a locally-based organization, remember that it may also have been affected by the disaster. Keep reaching out, and don’t lose hope! Also keep checking the Internet for new resources.
Grant and loan programs generally require completion of written applications describing losses and needs, possibly including dollar value, and may also require:
descriptions of other support you are receiving (insurance, FEMA aid, voluntary agency support),
income information (tax and wage documents), and
information about yourself as an artist. You will likely be asked to submit a CV or resume.
Many programs assess only need and status as a professional, but some look to artistic merit or have residency requirements. A local or state agency may restrict distribution of funds to those who have previously received grants from them. You may be required to provide your FEMA ID number.
Some organizations will help you complete your application.
Most financial programs have a review system — so do not expect immediate turnaround, though they will help as quickly as they can. Remember that their funds are limited and they are trying to help as many artists as possible, so they must evaluate applications. For your immediate needs of food, clothing and shelter, look to FEMA and the voluntary agencies, such as the American Red Cross.