An Update on Webinars, LAM Relief Funds, and a New Advocacy Call

I hope this post finds you as well as can be expected during this time. I know I’m writing more frequently right now and that’s an intentional choice on my part. We all need support to stay engaged in our work so that together we can survive this pandemic and economic disaster. I want to make sure you have the latest news and resources at your fingertips to help you pivot your work and advocate for what you need. With that in mind, if you’re new to my site, thank you for joining me. I invite you to sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss any critical information or valuable resource drops. You can catch up on my previous two COVID-19 posts with resources here:

COVID-19: Five Actions to Take Right Now for Archives, Museums, and Cultural Heritage Organizations

An Evaluation of the Stimulus Package and Resources for LAM Professionals

If you’re not familiar with the LAM acronym it means: Libraries, Archives, and Museums.


TOPICS

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This post covers the following topics: 1. Free webinars built specifically to help museum professionals, archivists, and cultural heritage professionals navigate this challenging time; 2. New resources available to help financially support LAM organizations and professionals; and 3. The most recent call to action for phase 4 of the US economic relief plan.


FREE WEBINARS TO HELP US WORK

This crisis has challenged us to approach our work in new ways. What can we do while physically separated from our collections? How can we show the value of the collection and our work when repositories are closed and our work out of sight? This week there are two new webinars available for free on-demand.

The first webinar is one I participated in with fellow co-panelists Margot Note and Chris Cummings. We received an overwhelming response of 680 registrants and 501 who joined us live on April 7, 2020. Thank you so much for attending and engaging with your thoughtful questions. I’m pleased to be able to offer this video to you and our colleagues.

Deriving Value from Collections in the Time of Corona (COVID-19),” offered by SAA’s Committee on Public Awareness, featuring Rachael Woody (myself) or Rachael Cristine Consulting, Margot Note of Margot Note Consulting, and Chris Cummings of Pass it Down. The webinar is a call to action for enhancing museum and archives collection programs online through adaption and repurposing of content, reviewing digital usership and digital collection best practices, and capturing the value of your online collections work to broadcast to administrative stakeholders. The aim of the webinar is to help archivists and museum professionals cultivate their skills to become better promoters of themselves, their repositories, and their profession. Watch via YouTube or click the video above.

How to Craft Meaningful and Mindful Digital Content in the Age of Coronavirus,” offered by Cuseum, featuring Brendan Ciecko (CEO & Founder of Cuseum), Ryan Dodge (Head of Digital Experiences at the Canadian Museum of History), and Kat Harding (Public Relations & Social Media Manager at North Carolina Museum of Art). Panelists discuss how to develop effective content and messaging that aligns with your organization’s mission while resonating in the hearts and minds of audiences. This webinar will address questions like, what does your audience want and need from you? How do you communicate with consistency and compassion? And, how do you continue to imbue your mission into your content? Available on-demand via this link.

Looking for more webinars, trainings, and ideas on how to do your work? A comprehensive list is being collated with all COVID-19 generated resources. “What to do during COVID-19?” a list of online courses, videos, podcasts and other activities for archivists during COVID-19. The list is updated daily.


NEW FINANCIAL RESOURCES AVAILABLE

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As of April 10, 2020, more than 17 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the past four weeks. The US unemployment rate is now at 13% and will continue to increase until the coronavirus pandemic is contained. LAM organizations across the country are in dire need of financial relief. So far, the financial relief available has been minimal (more on this below). As of this week, federal funds have been disbursed to federal agencies, the Society of American Archivists has launched an Archival Worker Emergency Fund (thanks to the ad hoc team who led that initiative), and a few local crowd source campaigns have been launched.

ARCHIVAL WORKERS EMERGENCY FUND APPLICATION

Archival Workers Emergency Fund Application Guidelines: Created in the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic in 2020, the Archival Workers Emergency Fund was established to provide financial assistance for archival workers experiencing acute, unanticipated financial hardship due to the crisis.

The number of recipients and award amounts will be determined by the SAA Foundation AWEF Grant Review Committee in collaboration with the SAA Foundation Board of Directors based on need and available funds. During the initial period (April 15 to December 31, 2020), the award amount will be up to a maximum of $1,000. Nonmembers will also receive a complimentary year-long membership in SAA.

Application Deadlines: Due to the unpredictability of the crisis and times of acute need, applications for AWEF will be considered on a rolling basis up to December 31, 2020.

WHERE’S THE MUSEUM WORKERS EMERGENCY FUND?

At the time of this writing I’ve not found a similar museum workers fund (on a national level). I’ve located a couple hyper-local funds being collected in a crowd sourced fashion, such as the Greater Philadelphia Museum Worker Fund.

AN UPDATE ON CORONAVIRUS FEDERAL RELIEF FUNDS

On March 27, the US passed a $2-trillion-dollar stimulus package with $2-million earmarked for National Endowment for Humanities (NEH), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). NEA and NEH have released preliminary information for the distribution of their funds.

NEA ANNOUNCES INITIAL CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FUND INFORMATION

With the $75 million appropriated to the National Endowment for the Arts through the CARES Act, the Arts Endowment will award 40 percent of the funds directly to state and regional arts agencies by April 30th to distribute through their funding programs. Sixty percent of the funds are designated for direct grants to nonprofit arts organizations all across the United States and will be announced by June 30th. Read more here.

NEH ANNOUNCES INITIAL CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FUND INFORMATION

Approximately 40 percent of the appropriation, or $30 million, will go directly to the 56 state and jurisdictional humanities councils, based on the standard population formula used for their annual appropriation. The remaining 60 percent, or $45 million, will support at-risk humanities positions and projects at museums, libraries and archives, historic sites, colleges and universities, and other cultural nonprofits that have been financially impacted by the coronavirus. All NEH supplemental funds must be obligated to projects by September 30, 2021. Read more here.


IT’S TIME TO WRITE YOUR REPRESENTATIVES (AGAIN)

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The US stimulus package passed on March 27, 2020, allocated less than 5% of our $4-billion-dollar request. The American Alliance of Museums has put out an Advocacy Call and it’s time to write your representatives (again). Our US congressional representatives are working on the fourth phase of economic relief packages. For the health of the LAM fields, your organization, and yourself; it’s imperative you write your representatives. You can use AAM’s proforma letter with easy-to-send button. Or, you can personalize the letter using my easy fill in the blank template. More information on this important action can be found in my previous post here.


Rachael Cristine Woody of Rachael Cristine Consulting smiles at the camera as she poses in front of her laptop displaying Deriving Value from Collections in the Time of Corona (COVID-19) webinar.
Rachael Cristine Woody of Rachael Cristine Consulting

I know there’s not been a lot of reasons to smile lately. Just to see myself smiling in this picture is jarring. I took this photo right before the live webinar last week (linked above). I found myself lighter in that moment–having found a little bit of peace in the awareness that I was about to help at least a few of my colleagues during this challenging time.

From the positive feedback I’ve received since Tuesday’s webinar, I’ve been inspired to overhaul my content plan for the year. I have a few ideas in the hopper and hope to drop more easy-to-follow strategies and advocacy resources in the coming weeks. If there’s something you need, please let me know.

Finally, if you know colleagues who need access to these resources please share this post. They can also sign up for my newsletter here. Thank you.

Stock photographs by Bongkarn Thanyakij and Steve Johnson, via Canva. Images downloaded for use April 2020, and was not purposefully altered. All other image and text owned by Rachael Cristine Consulting LLC.

An Evaluation of the Stimulus Package and Resources for LAM Professionals

A lot has happened since my last post on March 26. (If you’re new or wish to read it again, you can find it here). On Friday night the $2-trillion dollar stimulus bill was passed by the House and signed by the President. It’s the largest bill in US history and was passed in record time out of necessity. As a result, many pundits acknowledge it’s far from perfect and that there’s still more work to be done in the long-term. As a profession that’s heavily impacted by this current crisis, it’s very important that we understand what resources are available in the stimulus package and identify what we still need.

This post covers the following topics: 1. The stimulus package and what it means for archives, museums, and cultural heritage organizations; 2. Surveys that are tracking impacted professionals; and 3. Free webinars to help you get through this challenging time.

If you’re not familiar with the LAM acronym it means: Libraries, Archives, and Museums.


THE STIMULUS PACKAGE AND WHAT’S IN IT FOR US

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the National Council of Nonprofits, and the National Humanities Alliance have all weighed in with their initial thoughts. To summarize, the National Endowment for Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the IMLS will collectively receive $200-million from this stimulus package. Details are forthcoming on how and when the money will be distributed from these agencies. Additionally, nonprofits can apply for loans that include a forgiveness component, with certain eligibility parameters in place. And, a charitable giving provision was put in place for an above-the-line deduction up to $300 in cash donations.

This is viewed as a good start, but much more is needed to fully support LAMs. As a point of comparison, Germany approved a $50-billion aid package with more substantial funds allocated to support their small businesses, freelance artists, and cultural organizations.

KEEP WRITING YOUR REPRESENTATIVES — MORE AID IS NEEDED

Considering US cultural organizations asked for $4-billion and received less than 5% of their request, you can see we have a long way to go toward getting the resources we need to navigate the economic part of this crisis. As AAM stated in their letter last week, “We estimate as many as 30 percent of museums, mostly in small and rural communities, will not re-open without significant and immediate emergency financial assistance.” This is still true unless more resources are provided. If your organization is struggling, it’s imperative you write your representatives. Please use this easy fill in the blank template to contact your representatives. More information on this important action can be found in my previous post, here.


THE HUMAN IMPACT

As with many industries, archives, museums, and cultural heritage organizations have been unexpectedly thrust into an economic crisis on top of the pandemic crisis. There is the very real human toll on us physically and psychologically. And there is the economic toll on us as the organizations we work for begin to shutter operations and furlough staff in an effort to slow the quick trip to bankruptcy. As of this week, 3.3 million Americans have filed for unemployment and we’re just in the first few weeks of the pandemic impacting the economy.

Several surveys have been created by grassroots organizers to help capture the human and economic toll, and I’m sharing them with you here (below). If you are one of the many who have lost their job, please fill out these surveys so that we can know the full extent of this economic crisis. Any future plans for economic recovery will need this information. Please participate and share with your peers so that they can be counted too.

TRACKING LAYOFF/FURLOUGH SURVEYS

Contingent Archival Workers and COVID-19

Archives Staff Impact During COVID-19

Museum Staff Impact During COVID-19

RELATED RESOURCES FOR PEOPLE

Art + Museum Transparency Twitter thread is tracking museum layoff news.

Archives Workers Emergency Fund is a group of peers preparing to set up an emergency fund for archival workers in contingent positions who may be affected by COVID-19, have limited workplace protections or sick time, and may suffer the loss of income as institutions close and move to remote work in response to the pandemic.

The Americans for the Arts’ dashboard for The Economic Impact of Coronavirus on the Arts and Culture Sector provides the latest results from Americans for the Arts’ ongoing survey. They hope to capture coronavirus-related economic impact reports from artists, arts organizations, and arts agencies of all types, genres, sizes, and tax statuses. To participate you can fill out their survey here.

RELATED RESOURCES FOR ORGANIZATIONS

AAM’s Strategies for Short-term Financial Survival, a collection of resources and information to help you create short-term strategies for navigating the coming weeks and months.

AAM’s Financial Relief and Resources, a living list with updates made regularly. The resources listed are to help museums develop short-term and long-term fiscal strategies to keep your museum afloat.


FREE WEBINARS

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This crisis has helped to inspire multiple free webinar opportunities for archives, museums, and cultural heritage staff to learn new things. Here are a few upcoming webinars to help you navigate this crisis.

“Mitigating COVID-19 When Managing Paper-Based, Circulating, and Other Types of Collections,” offered by IMLS, featuring Dr. David Berendes and Dr. Catherine Rasberry from the Centers for Disease Control. March 30 @11am Pacific. Register here.

“Deriving Value from Collections in the Time of Corona,” offered by SAA’s Committee on Public Awareness, featuring Rachael Woody (myself), Margot Note of Margot Note Consulting, and Chris Cummings of Pass it Down. April 7 @12pm Pacific. RSVP here. Join here.

“How to Captivate, Connect, and Communicate with Your Audience During Coronavirus,” offered by Cuseum, featuring Brendan Ciecko (CEO & Founder @ Cuseum), with special guests Susan Edwards (Associate Director, Digital Content @ Hammer Museum) and Koven Smith (Museum & Nonprofit Digital Strategy Consultant). On-Demand.

And related AAM article, “4 Ways Museums Can Successfully Leverage Digital Content and Channels During Coronavirus (COVID-19),” by Brendan Ciecko of Cuseum.


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Many of us are entering into week 3 of social distancing. As we make our way through this I hope that you are finding solace in your friends, family, and community. If I can help support you better, please tell me how. Until then, here’s a picture from when my babies we’re young. Through them I try to find small moments of joy.

If you know colleagues who need access to these resources please send them a link to this post. They can also sign up for my newsletter here.

Image courtesy of Regan Vercruysse, via Flickr’s Creative Commons, and follows the Creative Commons Attribution License. Image downloaded for use March 2020, and was not purposefully altered. All other image and text owned by Rachael Cristine Consulting LLC.