June 1st Marks The Beginning of the Atlantic Hurricane Season

Whether or not you live in a hurricane-vulnerable area, use this opportunity to update (or create) your organization’s evacuation plan and drill it with your team. Here are some resources to help you get started on completing an evacuation and shutdown plan for your venue.

Being prepared to safely evacuate your audience and visitors can save lives in an immediate crisis like a fire. It’s also critical to be ready to act when you have advance warning of an event such as heavy storms, floods, a utility or industrial accident or shutdown. When you do have notice of such an event, with a plan in place you can be poised to use that hour, or day, to conduct a safe and secure shutdown of your facility.

Install a weather radio where it will be regularly monitored for alerts, and have key staff sign up for local governmental and public safety alerts (such as your state emergency management agency, and Nixle). Your emergency coordinator should take the lead on triggering your evacuation once you become aware of the situation, and with instructions from your local officials.

Your readiness plan should have individuals assigned for shutdown elements including data backup and offsite storage, and proper computer and other systems shutdown. Your communications steps should include alerting staff, any other users of your facility including guest artists, and posting closure information on your website and phone system. Also determine your system for communicating with key individuals during and after the crisis event (your phone/email tree comes in handy here).

Your facility should be physically prepared if possible, given the type of threat; for example, you may have time to safely de-install and secure fragile or valuable artwork or equipment (help is here and here), or cash. If water is involved, try to remove items from your lowest level to a higher level, or at least up off the floor. If harsh weather is approaching, secure/tie down any exterior items/equipment or bring them inside. Entry points to your building can be inspected and secured. As each staff person leaves the building, they should take their pre-planned ‘go bag’ with them.

These are just some ways to make your facility more secure in advance of a crisis, before you and your team depart. Our friends at AgilityRecovery have a more comprehensive checklist; though it’s headlined for hurricane preparedness, many of the items are wise for any evacuation needs.

Any of us may experience a crisis that impacts our artwork, our organization, our community. Are you ready? Do you have a plan and know how you would respond to the unexpected? Have a conversation this month with your team about these issues and work on, or start, your readiness plan. Our partners at ArtsReady have many resources to help you. Start today, work on a little bit at a time, and you can then say “Yes! We’re ready!” Learn more.


Omar Nelson



Critical Function




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