FEMA included performing arts organizations as eligible for disaster relief at the time of the San Francisco earthquake (1989) and American Conservatory Theater was able to access relief funding. Then when Hurricane Allison hit Houston and the Alley Theatre flooded in 2001, the theatre alerted TCG that FEMA no longer considered performing arts organizations eligible for disaster relief. The Performing Arts Alliance (then The American Arts Alliance,) advocated and was able to reverse that decision—and performing arts organizations were eligible, once again. Performing arts organizations are still eligible.
There are a number of requirements that include being open to the public, ownership, certifying nonprofit status and more. Further, there are requirements about applying first or simultaneously for Small Business Administration loans—and organizations may need to brace themselves for a difficult process and may need to avail themselves of the FEMA appeals process.
There are several important FEMA links:
Performing arts organizations are eligible if they meet certain requirements: http://www.fema.gov/public-assistance-9500-series-policy-publications/private-nonprofit-facility-eligibility-0
Performing arts organizations would be applying to this program: Public Assistance: Local, State, Tribal and Non-Profit – http://www.fema.gov/public-assistance-local-state-tribal-and-non-profit
Here’s the link to the page that describes the process to apply: http://www.fema.gov/public-assistance-grant-application-process
Theatres actually then contact their state FEMA office: http://www.fema.gov/regional-operations/state-offices-and-agencies-emergency-management
FEMA is hosting two public meetings for New York’s non-profit institutions that were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. To apply for FEMA Public Assistance, the first step is to attend an applicant briefing being held by FEMA. One of the meetings was today, but there is another one on Monday. Follow the link to learn more and feel free to share with other non-profits: http://www.nyc.gov/html/misc/html/2012/workshop-non-profit.html
A phone call to your state FEMA office is a good place to start. Please stay in touch with me and let me know if FEMA turns you away because they believe that performing arts organizations aren’t eligible. Please let me know how the relief process goes. If we receive word there are problems, we’ll be in touch with FEMA on behalf of the field. If you have questions about FEMA, please contact Laurie Baskin.