June 2018

Safety Awareness for Performing Arts

It has been a pleasure working with the NJ Performing Arts organizations this past year. The organizations that I worked with either individually or who attended a workshop are more aware of the importance of having an emergency plan that will cover all types of hazards. Even though my time is coming to a close, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the Performing Arts Readiness Project continue to be here to assist you with your emergency planning. Another resource that I encourage you to join is New Jersey Cultural Alliance for Response (NJCAR); Mary Eileen Fouratt (maryeileen.fouratt@sos.nj.gov) can be contacted for more information. I will also have the opportunity of working with the South Jersey Cultural Alliance for the next 6 months in educating their members on emergency planning. The Performing Arts Readiness Project is also offering Planning Grants, if you apply and are awarded one of these grants I can offer my services as a consultant to assist with your planning. Please use the Performing Arts Readiness Project link below to find more information on these new PAR grants.
The month of June is National Safety Awareness Month and recognizing this at theatre and performing arts venues is very important. There are many situations that can cause a slip or fall, whether it be with your performers, staff and volunteers or patrons. Performing arts productions can involve numerous hazards and risks related to diverse areas such as aerial acrobatics, working at heights, falls off stages, shop activities, audience safety considerations and more.  Falls are the third leading cause of injury related deaths for all ages and the number one cause for those over the age of 65 according to the National Safety Council.
The safety of your audience should be utmost in your mind; without their patronage, the show would not go on. Front-of-house personnel have multiple responsibilities that impact audience safety, and these responsibilities begin as soon as the public arrives, continue throughout the performance, and are not finished until the audience members exit the facilities. Although routine safety inspections are done, the House Manager must ensure the facilities are inspected again prior to the performance and arrival of patrons in order to identify hazards that may have developed since the last routine safety inspection. The House Manager should ensure all hazardous conditions are immediately corrected. Use a checklist to document the inspection; this will help to ensure all areas of concern are observed and can also be used to document corrective actions taken.
Your performers are also subject to hazards for example their costume may cause them to trip and fall as a result of the design, such as a long hem or a mask that constricts their ability to see. The costumes might also be treated with a substance that could become flammable if there is open flame on stage as a prop. Makeup can also prove to be hazardous to your performers if safe products are not selected, applied and removed properly. Certain products can cause allergic reactions, cause the skin to dry and crack. Beware of products that can be flammable. Never use paint or non-cosmetic products.
In the production of a performance there are many workplace hazards associated with the performing arts. During the construction of sets, everyone must be trained on the proper use of power and hand tools, including applicable safety features, guards, and the required personal protective equipment. There are many types of paints, inks, pigments, and dyes used in the performing arts; follow the manufactures specific safety guidelines for each product . Set construction involves exposure to fall hazards from a variety of processes and procedures. Fall hazards are present when working on ladders, on the catwalks, outside of the catwalks, in elevated storage areas of the shops, and on unprotected elevated work platforms such as the open edge of the stage. Fall protection systems must be provided to protect cast and crew from fall hazards where the fall will be from an elevation of 7.5 feet or more.
Here are some additional resources to consider:
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 www.artscouncil.nj.gov. 

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 www.PerformingArtsReadiness.org.