Not-for-profit organizations dedicated to serving the Greater Houston arts and cultural sector have joined together to launch the Harvey Arts Recovery Fund.
The Fund will accept tax-deductible donations to provide aid to individual artists who suffered personal and professional losses during Hurricane Harvey and the flooding that followed, as well as financially assist small and mid-sized arts and cultural organizations rebuilding after Harvey.
The Fund will be housed at the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA), a 501(c)(3) public charity, and support the disaster recovery needs of the Greater Houston arts, culture, and creative community in the 10-county region of Harris, Fort Bend, Montgomery, Brazoria, Galveston, Liberty, Waller, Chambers, Austin and San Jacinto.
Members of the Local Action Group will manage the Fund with initial leadership provided by Preservation Houston, Galveston Historical Foundation, Fresh Arts, Dance Source Houston and CultureWorks Greater Houston. The collaborative effort also launched www.harveyartsrecovery.org, an online platform for donations and Hurricane Harvey-related resources that provides information on how individuals and arts and cultural organizations can request funding, be of service and also apply for federal and state assistance.
“The arts and cultural community is deeply woven into the fabric of Houston and contributes significantly to the quality of life for residents; we are proud to support the collaborative efforts toward recovery. We have learned from other disasters that this is not a short-term proposition, especially for artists and smaller organizations that are particularly vulnerable. Our united strength highlights our resolve to maintain the arts and culture that help to make Houston an international economic force,” said Debbie McNulty, director of the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA).
Houston arts patrons Leslie and Brad Bucher made the first donation to the Fund. Houston Endowment will provide seed funding for the initial infrastructure support. A founding board member of CultureWorks Greater Houston, Brad Bucher said: “As Houston’s attention and work shifts from rescue and emergency relief to repair and restoration, we need our city’s artists and arts and cultural organizations to help us heal from this trauma. But they can’t help fix what Harvey broke if they’re overwhelmed by their own financial losses.”
Houston’s arts and cultural sector’s post-disaster needs could be substantial.
Artists often function as self-employed workers doing commissioned projects, freelance gigs and contract work for individual patrons, art and cultural nonprofits and for-profit businesses. Almost 40 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors following a disaster because just a few inches of water can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Recovering from disaster-related setbacks hinges on having the right insurance coverage. However, 69 percent of artists are likely underinsured for business property, according to a survey conducted by CERF+, The Artists Safety Net. Homeowner’s and renter’s insurance typically don’t cover losses related to art businesses run out of homes, garages and studios on residential property.
Plus, fewer than 20 percent of Houston area homeowners have flood insurance, according to Associated Press reporting on National Flood Insurance Program records.
In essence, performing and visual artists are one-person businesses under threat of not being able to get back up and running in the next few months.
Similar concerns exist for small-to-mid-sized arts and cultural organizations. Even those that have flood insurance may not have business interruption insurance that would cover payroll during the recovery period.
“As the local nonprofit arts and culture agency, the Houston Arts Alliance closely tracks the well-being of our city’s arts community in good times and bad,” said Philamena Baird, HAA’s board chairman and interim CEO. “The Harvey Arts Recovery Fund will help arts organizations with limited resources survive this unexpected crisis.”
The list of organizations joining the Local Action Group to sustain the Greater Houston creativeeconomy is growing and to date includes:
Art League Houston
CultureWorks Greater Houston
Dance Source Houston
Galveston Arts Center
Galveston Historical Foundation
Graffiti and Street Art Museum of Texas
Houston Arts Alliance
Houston Poet Laureate
Lawndale Art Center
Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs
Mid-America Arts Alliance
MATCH – Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
National Organization for Arts in Health
Project Row Houses
Texans for the Arts
Texas Commission on the Arts
University of Houston Center for Art and Social Engagement
Writers in the Schools
Young Audiences of Houston