HR & COVID-19.

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, arts organizations are trying to adapt to circumstances that seem to change almost daily. For those in higher education, the 2019-2020 academic year is also ending in ways no one could have ever imagined. Internships and job opportunities are on hold as organizations try to sort out when they can resume operations.

I have been listening to numerous webinars in the last three weeks to understand the impact of this crisis better. Arts organizations were addressing a range of inclusion and equity initiatives before the virus derailed many of their plans. I thought this webinar offered insights that seemed relevant to the crisis and to topics covered in Chapter 7, Human Resources and the Arts. Here’s the NPQ summary:

This webinar explores:

What shifts in human resource policy or practice can we implement now to support employees in the short term?

What experiments can we undertake that may lead to long-term improvements in how we support employees at our organizations?

What employment law is most critical in this fast-changing environment for nonprofit employers?

While the webinar does not talk specifically about cultural organizations, it offers examples of how nonprofits are trying to grapple with the impact of the virus on staff and their organizations. Of course, some situations are beyond the control of arts managers and leaders, such as laid-off employees not being able to get through to file for unemployment benefits in their state. The number of examples of systems failing people is disheartening. The reality is few people have two months worth of living expenses saved up, and the thought that it could be six or more months before an arts organization resumes operation is a terrifying prospect to be facing.**  

Maybe in early June it will be easier to assess what options might be available to artists and arts managers struggling with the effects of this pandemic. I look forward to sharing a few success stories with you next month.

Stay safe, and thanks for subscribing to the Management and the Arts 5e updates.

Bill Byrnes

** Here’s a link to a quick 8-question survey that helps calculate how much it would take to cover six months of living expenses.


Human Resources: Balancing Urgency & Equity during COVID-19

Jeanne Bell and Nonprofit Quarterly

April 27, 2020

For many nonprofits, COVID-19 has required gut-wrenching decisions about staffing as programs are postponed or dramatically redesigned. Even nonprofits whose programming has not been negatively impacted are nonetheless experiencing significant shifts in how they do business, including increased working from home by employees.

For organizations that center values of equity and justice, managing the people-oriented aspects of the business during a crisis like COVID-19 presents both challenges and opportunities. Decision-makers in these nonprofits—human resources directors, senior staff, and executive directors—are in a daily struggle to balance urgency and equity. They are meeting the demands of the moment, but also learning from these emergency responses potential strategies for more equitable human resource management in the future.

Join us for a candid conversation among human resource professionals who lead with their values and are making the best decisions they can make, just as you are, for their employees and their organizations.

Link to video (57 minutes)


Tim Cynova, Chief Operating Officer, Fractured Atlas

Joann Lee Wagner, Vice President of People Operations, Common Future

Sejal Thakkar, Employment Law Attorney and Chief Civility Officer, TrainXtra

Moderator: Jeanne Bell, Director, Advancing Practice, Nonprofit Quarterly