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Arts, HR, and the Art Career Cafe in the Time of Covid-19

By Victoria Plettner-Saunders

The Art Career Cafe was started in the midst of the Great Recession and when jobs were hard to find. It was borne of a personal desire to create something that inspired people and helped them maybe feel less alone while looking for work in a jobless market. At least today, unlike then, there is more financial help on the way in the form of first ever unemployment for contractors and the self-employed, in addition to money for organizations to keep their workers working.

In the last few years, I’ve been expanding my creative workforce knowledge and skills to include the practice of HR . To that end, the last year has been spent in training, getting certifications in various areas like talent acquisition as well as general HR. My angle is understanding how to interpret it for and apply it to our nonprofit arts and culture sector. Two goals I have coming up this year are to get my aPHR (Associate Professional in Human Resources) certification and a micro-credential in California Employment Law. I’ll be using some of this time in my place of shelter studying for them.

When I started my first HR course, this pandemic wasn’t anywhere near the average person’s radar. If someone had told me we’d be here I’d tell them they were nuts. But here we are trying to figure out how to apply for unemployment or how to lay off, furlough or create work share opportunities for our workers. Trying to understand which sick leave, family leave or personal leave rules apply to quarantining and caring for the sick and quarantined. There are a lot of uncertainties with everything these days, including how to navigate the alphabet soup of state and federal programs and legislation that can help us all through it.

In the coming months I hope I can help make it a little easier for people in charge of HR to understand. There is no doubt that just getting up in the morning can be daunting these days. Never has there been a time of such upheaval in our personal and professional lives. Every one of us has been called to help and called for help in the last month. Both are requirements for people who live in community.

To that end, I will be updating these Cafe Notes more often as I find helpful information and create tools you can use both as arts employers and arts workers. You can contact me if you have questions about HR or if you need someone to figure out a solution to a problem. The Cafe has always been a virtual refuge – email me if you want to make coffee and Zoom with me – victoria (at) artcareercafe (dot) com.