May 2018

Hurricane Preparedness for Performing Arts  
1920's New Orleans Theatre ravaged by Hurricane Katrina
With the start of Hurricane season on June 1st, the month of May is the perfect time to make sure your Arts Organization is prepared. Here in New Jersey we have experienced the devastating effects of Irene and Sandy. The year 2017 was devastating on the Performing Arts in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. These communities are still in the recovery process and only those organizations who have an Emergency Action and Recovery plan were most successful in recovering quickly.
There are preparations that you can take before a hurricane makes landfall. The first and foremost is the safety of staff and volunteers. When an evacuation is issued it is extremely important to follow the evacuation procedures and not endanger yourself or the first responders who would need to rescue you. There is nothing in your venue that is worth the loss of life.
In the case of hurricanes, you normally might have up to 72 hours of warning in which to prepare and secure your facility and organization. One thing that can be done now in preparation for hurricanes or any type of hazard is to do a risk assessment. Do a walk through of your facility (whether this be a theatre or your administrative offices) and identify the areas that would need protection. This could be where scenery, props and costumes are stored or your business documents. Take precautions to protect them from damage, possibly moving them to a more secure facility. In the case of business documents, make sure that they are scanned to the cloud or an offsite server.
If your facility is normally subject to floods, have a supply of sand bags or flood barriers in place. When was the last time the roof was inspected? If the roof is in good condition, this could alleviate damage from the wind. Does your facility have many plate glass windows? Have your considered impact resistant windows (this can also add extra security to your facility from a possible break-in).
Your emergency plan should include this list of contacts: local and county emergency management, local and county government, fire and rescue, hospitals, utilities, radio and tv stations and insurance agent. Do you have a list of vendors readily accessible to contact to help with your recovery? Do you have architectural plans and pictures of the venue, which would be useful in replication of any damaged parts of the facility?
Read the story of the Alley Theatre in Houston and how their preparedness helped their road to recovery from Hurricane Harvey.

Want to learn more? I'm here to help.
I'm Ellen Korpar, and I'll be working as New Jersey's Emergency Preparedness Consultant (EPC), until July 2018.  Simply put, that means if you're with a New Jersey performing arts organization and you want to make sure you're prepared for emergencies of all kinds, in all the ways you should be, I want to help you - for free.

My work in New Jersey is made possible by the Performing Arts Readiness project (PAR), a national initiative focused on strengthening preparedness efforts of the performing arts sector. We believe preparedness is the key to resiliency, and resiliency means our treasured cultural resources and venues can continue to contribute to communities in the vital ways we've all come to expect.

The New Jersey State Council on the Arts is a founding partner in the PAR project, and my host for the year. Together we will work to support performing arts organizations of all sizes, and in all disciplines, providing one-on-one consulting and planning services, group trainings, and everything in between. If I haven't met you yet, please feel free to be in touch!

mobile 732-241-6014
office   609-777-3657
The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, created in 1966, is a division of the NJ Department of State. The Council was established to encourage and foster public interest in the arts; enlarge public and private resources devoted to the arts; promote freedom of expression in the arts; and facilitate the inclusion of art in every public building in New Jersey. The Council receives direct appropriations from the State of New Jersey through a dedicated, renewable Hotel/Motel Occupancy fee, and competitive grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. To learn more about the Council, visit 

The Performing Arts Readiness project was formed in the recognition that performing arts organizations are especially vulnerable to disasters and emergencies that can halt performances, and can put an organization out of business overnight. This multi-year project was launched in January of 2017 through a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Project Partners bring together knowledge of the performing arts field and expertise in emergency preparedness. Learn more about the free services, information and support PAR provides, visit