April 2018

Volunteer Preparedness - Health and Safety  
April is National Volunteer Month and the performing arts should celebrate the dedication of thousands of volunteers who support the mission of theatres and performing arts as being a gathering place for the community. Volunteers are critical partners within organizations and within the community. Performing arts organizations all depend on volunteers to help keep things running smoothly. From ushering to helping out at concessions, volunteers play a key role in making the theater-going experience richer for patrons.

It is important that your volunteers are trained on emergency preparedness, not only to assist with anything that happens to your organization, but also themselves and their families. If volunteers are trained on individual emergency preparedness and are confident that their families are safe; then at times of community wide events they will be readily available to help assist in the organizations recovery.
Individual preparedness includes having family emergency and evacuation plans. Just as your organization has an evacuation plan that is documented and practiced, volunteers should do the same at home. They should practice drills with their family (especially if there are children), have a meeting point and emergency contact lists. It is advised to have an emergency go kit for each member that should include supplies for at least 3 days. Some things that should be included are medicines, copies of legal documents, clothing, food and water (a complete list can be found in the links below).
Health and safety of your volunteers is also important. Providing CPR and First Aid training is beneficial to the volunteer in that the life they save might be their own or a family member's. If there is a medical emergency in your venue, they might be of assistance until EMS arrives. Working through your local Fire and EMS, they may provide this training for free or on a discounted basis.
When people experience a disaster, they may experience a variety of reactions, many of which are natural responses to difficult situations. Most people show resilience after a disaster. Resilience is the ability to bounce back, cope with adversity, and endure during difficult situations. It is also common for people to show signs of stress after exposure to a disaster making it important to monitor the physical and emotional health of those affected as well as those responding to the needs of others. State and community mental health agencies are a great resource to provide volunteers with services to overcome feelings of despair.

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.