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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.

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