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NCAPER's Response To HUD/CDBG Disaster Recovery Funds

Mollie Quinlan-Hayes has created a timely and important response to HUD's request for public comments on the CDBG Disaster Recovery Funds program.

The National Coalition for Arts’ Preparedness and Emergency Response/NCAPER, founded in 2006, is a voluntary task force of national, regional, state and local arts organizations, public agencies, and foundations. The Coalition helps ensure that artists, arts/cultural organizations, cultural funders, and arts businesses have the capacity and ability to respond effectively to disasters and emergencies affecting the arts and culture sector. The Coalition’s Charter Members are listed at the end of this submission.

According to the National Endowment for the Arts’ Artists and Other Cultural Workers: A Statistical Portrait, 2019, artists are 3.6 times more likely as other workers to be self-employed. Artists and creative workers were particularly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; many maintain their own studios/workspaces, which often are combination live/workspaces, and could not access either unemployment or paycheck protection benefits. While these characteristics make many artists particularly prone to heavy impact from natural and human-caused disasters, communities rely on artists and arts organizations to recover from crises and mitigate future impacts. The return of free outdoor public music performances following the 2010 Nashville floods provided respite and continuity to residents displaced from homes. In flooded Baton Rouge in 2016, artists were vetted, trained, and deployed to FEMA response centers providing opportunities for people to process their traumatic experiences while they were also in the room/tent/trailer to complete federal assistance applications Project Creative Relief. During the COVID pandemic, community connectivity was frayed in large part by the inability to gather in cultural spaces and in arts experiences. Artists are increasingly engaged in both policymaking and on-the-ground projects to increase community resilience and to develop mitigation activities and practices for and with communities, including NCAPER’s Crisis Analysis and Mitigation Coaches program which recruits and trains arts responders to coach distressed communities in developing/expanding mitigation efforts using the arts and creativity.

NCAPER strongly supports the principle that CDBG-DR is uniquely positioned to advance equity and prioritize disadvantaged communities, turning disaster-impacted neighborhoods that have historically faced underinvestment into resilient, healthy, sustainable, thriving communities. We believe that by ensuring that the needs of artists and creative workers are met through CDBG-DR regulations and requirements, HUD will be serving this principle. It’s imperative to retain these creatives in their home communities and ensure that they have access to all of the resources for which they are eligible to respond, recover and return to their business practice. If they can, they can continue their own business and creative practice; contribute to the immediate recovery of the community; and be a catalyst for building community resilience in the long-term. Therefore, we respectfully ask you to consider the following in your modifications to CDBG-DR rules and requirements.

Regarding Section 1. Reducing Administrative Burden and Accelerating Recovery, Section k: we encourage HUD to enroll arts/culture organizations (particularly Local Arts Agencies/Councils) and artists in the provision of technical assistance to potential applicants and to grantees. Their connections in communities can reach populations who may be intimidated by or resistant to government processes, and/or who are underserved. They have the ability and capacity to work with HUD and local officials to ‘translate’ dense written information and instructions into visuals, imagery, spoken word and performance.

Regarding Section 6. Incorporating Mitigation and Resilience Planning, section c: We encourage HUD to do more to engage arts and creative partners in the integration of long-term disaster recovery and mitigation planning into other existing federal, state, and local planning requirements. Specifically, we encourage HUD to engage directly with the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and its member state arts agencies (SAAs); and with Americans for the Arts and its member Local Arts Agencies (LAAs). These agencies are conduits for federal, state and local funding; can support state/city-wide initiatives and pilots; and work in partnership with other entities including Governors’/Mayors’ Offices, Emergency Management offices, Historic Preservation Offices, and Departments of Commerce/Economic Development.

NCAPER Organizational Members:

Americans for the Arts

CERF+ The Artists Safety Net

Grantmakers in the Arts

Entertainment Community Fund


National Endowment for the Arts

National Performance Network

National Assembly of State Arts Agencies

New York Foundation for the Arts

Performing Arts Readiness project

South Arts/ArtsReady

Individuals: Amy Schwartzman; Ted Berger

Prepared by Mollie Quinlan-Hayes, NCAPER, February 2023



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