In a crisis, arts organizations face challenges that other business entities don’t. After Hurricane Katrina, SouthArts created a program called ArtsReady that serves as a resource for arts organizations providing information on common concerns as well as those specific to arts organizations.
The ArtsReady site provides links to a number of good planning resources. Not long ago, someone posted on a LinkedIn forum asking if any arts organization had created an active shooter policy. At the time I hadn’t thought of ArtsReady, but when I recently visited the website, one of the top links in their resource library was to the Department of Homeland Security’s document on how to respond to an active shooter.
ArtsReady has two levels of membership. The basic level is free and gets you access to their library and regionally specific newsletters and alerts to help you prepare for issues and conditions that might affect you.
The premium level membership gets you access to online planning tools which periodically prompts you to review it. In addition, you get server space to back up important files. They stress this isn’t meant to necessarily replace a cloud based data back up system you already have, but to store crucial information should it become unavailable or inaccessible.
It’s a place to store copies of key emergency-relates files. You can upload insurance policies, communications procedures, contact lists, and banking information. You can type up instructions such as how to turn off the water and gas main lines for your facility, or describe how to change your organization’s voicemail messages remotely. You can also link to your own online resources or ArtsReady Library articles that relate closely to your organization. Having such documents, references, and write ups in one central, designated place can eliminate frantic searches for or the loss of vital information while you are already in duress because of a crisis.
ArtsReady allows you to network with colleagues across the country as part of their Battle Buddy program. If your theater has had a fire, do you know where you can store your costume collection? Who you can borrow a sound or lighting board from? If you are a museum that gets flooded, where can you store your collection?
One of my local museums has a large number of pieces from the Southern University of New Orleans Collection of African Art that got displaced by Hurricane Katrina because one of the museum directors did her graduate work there. Not only is the collection attended to by people knowledgeable in its care, but it is also getting shown and circulated while it is “away from home.”
The fact that the hurricane was 10 years ago and the pieces haven’t made it back to the museum yet is a good illustration of how long a time horizon your plan may need to encompass. Good crisis planning doesn’t only consider procedures to deal with immediate threats, but also has a sense of what the short and long term requirements and options for the aftermath might be.