RESOURCES & UPDATES

WESTAF COVID-19 Update

General Trends, Resources, and Data Across the West and the Nation

 

The number of current confirmed novel coronavirus cases in the region ranges from roughly 2,500 in California and Washington to under 50 in Alaska, Arizona, Hawai’i and Wyoming based on data collected on March 25; over half of the states in the West currently have over 100 confirmed cases. For public health information about COVID-19 in your state and nationally, please visit the following health agency websites.

Alaska (42) Arizona (45) California (2,535) Colorado (1,086)
Hawai’i (16) Idaho (73) Montana (53) Nevada (321)
New Mexico (112) Oregon (266) Utah (346) Washington (2,469)
Wyoming (44) Centers for Disease Control (USA – 54,453) Coronavirus.gov Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

 

Many of the state arts agencies throughout the West have had to close state cultural institutions; cancel programs, conferences, and other activities; and continue their work remotely in response to coronavirus public health directives. Please visit the following websites to keep abreast of these developments as well as resources for the arts and culture field in your state and nationally.

Alaska Arizona California Colorado
Hawai’i Idaho Montana Nevada
New Mexico Oregon Utah Washington
Wyoming National Endowment for the Arts National Assembly of State Arts Agencies Americans for the Arts

Impact of the coronavirus on the creative economy

WESTAF is currently monitoring the early impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the creative economy. This includes understanding how we can make use of official economic data to begin to model potential effects and identify risk factors for and vulnerabilities of creative industries. As part of our efforts to better understand how artists, arts organizations, creative businesses, and creative workers are being affected across the West, we are also asking those in our network to complete a brief impact survey. Survey results will support efforts to secure relief funding for the arts and culture field in the West from federal and philanthropic sources. 

Other arts service organizations and some state and local agencies are also conducting surveys. Check the Americans for the Arts Economic Impact of the Coronavirus on the Arts and Culture Sector Dashboard for regularly updated information on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the arts and culture field nationally (you can also take their survey here). If you are in California, please complete the California Arts Council’s survey  and this economic impact survey if you are in Seattle, Washington. If your organization is Latinx-serving or Latinx-led, also complete the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC) survey on the impact of the coronavirus. Utah Cultural Alliance has recently released the results of their survey and Oregon Cultural Alliance is currently seeking submissions for a survey organized by a consortium of Oregon’s regional and statewide funders currently including the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation and the Regional Arts & Culture Council.

Local, State and Federal Government Relief Packages

Across the nation, a range of emergency aid packages are being passed and signed into law that seek to address the immediate economic duress that many individuals and institutions are facing due to dampened economic activity in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Among these, President Trump recently signed the HR 6201 Families First Coronavirus Act into law after it passed in the Senate. This follows an earlier aid package and precedes what could be an over $1 trillion relief package targeting businesses and a broader range of households and individuals. Indications of the White House’s proposal can be found in this Treasury proposal, which includes recommendations on bolstering affected industries and offering payments directly to household taxpayers. Two comprehensive bills aiming to provide pandemic related relief, Senate bill S.3548 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act ($2 trillion) and House bill H.R.6379 Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act ($2.5 trillion), were recently being deliberated in Congress (the latter of which has provisions for increased funding of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities). H.R. 748, however, is the expected vehicle for the aid package that is the third response to the coronavirus crisis and was passed by the Senate on March 25, 2020. H.R. 748 includes an additional $75 million for the National Endowment for the Arts. There is growing consensus that additional relief packages will be developed by Congress following this third action. Arts advocates around the country continue to be galvanized behind a proposal for a $4 billion relief package for the arts that would be administered by the National Endowment for the Arts. Members of House and Senate Cultural Caucuses leadership have submitted letters to Congressional leadership in support of this proposed measure

Measures being adopted at the state level focus on funding hospitals and other healthcare services, expanding social services, strengthening medical leave provisions for workers, and protecting tenants and homeowners from evictions. Some state legislatures are waiting to see the outcome of federal relief funding before developing their own relief measures according to recent reporting. So far, these aid packages have not specifically or directly addressed the arts and cultural sector, but, as longer term measures are taken, there is an opportunity for the field to advocate for relief funding. The information below summarizes some of the early efforts to provide emergency relief in states in the West with high numbers of cases. 

 

  • Washington: Governor Inslee signed into law HB 2965, an emergency aid bill that expands access to social services and provides support to state and local agencies responding to the crisis.

 

  • California: Governor Newsom recently signed into law a range of measures to fund hospitals and schools in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Among these, SB 117 protects school funding from a negative impact from school closures and provides funding for protective equipment and cleaning of school sites, while SB 89 allocates $500 million to support efforts associated with the state of emergency.

 

  • Colorado: Governor Polis has been instrumental in galvanizing public volunteerism and philanthropy through a COVID-19 Relief Fund. The Colorado Legislature is currently considering bills that would structure relief packages for individuals and businesses in Colorado.

General resources on COVID-19 state legislative activity, including those of states in the WESTAF region, can be found on this National Council of State Legislatures page and state fiscal actions here. Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, California, Hawai’i, Utah, and Washington have enacted legislation related to the coronavirus in the 13-state WESTAF region thus far. 

Arts-specific Relief Funding and Other Resources

Private philanthropy is beginning to be mobilized to support communities in addressing the pandemic, and this disaster philanthropy resource from Foundation Center includes early information on the investments being made across the country. Early funding has focused on the Pacific Northwest, which has seen some of the highest incidents of confirmed novel coronavirus cases, and on supporting clinicians, research institutions, and public health agencies.

In Seattle, Mayor Durkan announced an initial $1.1 million City of Seattle funding package to invest directly in creative workers and arts and cultural organizations financially impacted by COVID-19. Denver Arts & Venues structured COVID-relief to individual artists through its IMAGINE 2020 Artist Assistance program; applications are temporarily closed due to overwhelming response from applicants. Nationally, a limited number of new artist/arts relief efforts have been announced to date, which include the Boston Artist Relief Fund and the Rauschenberg Foundation/New York Foundation for the Arts Emergency Grants (eligible to artists throughout the country). Actors Fund provides emergency financial assistance to eligible applicants in need and is also administering COVID19 Assistance programs for performing arts and entertainment unions including  SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, Actors Equity Association, American Guild of Musical Artists and Musicians Local 802 and other groups. Established artist emergency assistance program CERF+ also recently announced a new fund for artists affected by COVID-19. Other useful resources that we recommend to artists and arts organizations in the West can be found here.