The Flamboyan Arts Fund and CERF+ commit to support the arts and culture economy of Puerto Rico in the wake of natural disasters by providing emergency financial assistance and disaster preparedness support to 48 artists and artisans throughout the island. With funds provided by Flamboyan, CERF+ will expand two existing programs in Puerto Rico focused on disaster relief and preparedness, respectively (24 participants in each). Participants will be selected through a grant application process, and in order to provide on-ground support for outreach and grant writing assistance for both programs, the commitment will provide operational funds to CERF+ to hire two part-time, temporary program staff and advisors.
The disaster relief fund will provide emergency relief assistance of $3,000 to 24 artists and artisans in Puerto Rico who have experienced career-threatening emergencies, such as an illness, accident, fire or natural disaster including those affected by Hurricanes Maria and Irma. Applicants will also be able to access additional funds for counseling services.
In addition, CERF+ will expand the fund to support preparedness and career protection projects of Puerto Rican artisans and artists. Through these “Get Ready Grants,” CERF+ will provide $500 for an additional 24 artists to support disaster preparedness and resiliency-building projects, both personally and professionally, including construction support, procurement of supplies, and other preparedness tools. Recipients of the “Get Ready Grants” will also receive disaster preparedness education resources to create personal disaster plans.
January 2020-May 2020:
Hire two part-time, temporary program staff for outreach, grant assistance, and counseling and advisors.
Local outreach through workshops and advisory with artists.
Review applications and make awards to individual artists on a rolling basis.
Make final awards, pending remaining funds.
Write final program and financial report with a summary of project impact.
Artisans and artists are an essential part of Puerto Rico’s economy, and, as entrepreneurs, they comprise a particularly vulnerable population in the economic downturns that follow natural disasters. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, artists and artisans not only faced disruptions to the supply chains of their materials, but also faced severe reductions to grants, government support and sponsorships, and significantly lower attendance and revenue. Some have reduced staff significantly, such as the Andanza Dance School and Company and the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, and other institutions have closed. As the island continues to rebuild, it is paramount that artists and artisans, the cultural lifeblood of the Puerto Rican people, also have a chance to continue to grow and thrive. Moreover, because arts and culture are important components of the tourism sector, they are pivotal to the vitality and the economic recovery of the island.
After an initial round of grants to artists following Hurricane Maria, CERF+ learned that 73% of their beneficiaries in Puerto Rico reported that CERF+’s was the only financial relief assistance they had received. CERF+’s previous national research documents their fragile economic position—a common pattern of producing episodic and modest annual incomes ($10,000 -$20,000), relying on credit cards to make ends meet, and possessing little or no cash reserves. Too often, temporary setbacks turn into permanent shutdowns. Like other small businesses on the island, artisans and artists face difficulty in accessing capital, preventing them from expanding their practice, absorbing the costs of disruptions, or investing in effective preparedness and business continuity plans for the future.
This reality combined with the challenges facing Puerto Rican artists’ recovery from Hurricane Maria, the recent earthquakes in January 2020, and the prospect of future emergencies necessitates continued financial investment for artists.
The Flamboyan Arts Fund and CERF+ seek the opportunity to partner with organizations that can provide further technical assistance and visibility to Puerto Rico’s artists.
Flamboyan Arts Fund and CERF+ have established strong relationships with arts institutions and artists across Puerto Rico. In addition, CERF+ has 35 years of experience supporting helping artists build strong and resilient careers and can offer best practice information and program implementation in other contexts in need of disaster relief.