Emergency Preparedness & Business Continuity

This page features information related to emergency preparedness and business continuity planning for artists and creative organizations.


ArtsReady offers free regionally focused email alerts, an online library of emergency preparedness resources, and links to current recovery aid. Resources include the new Pocket Response Resource (“PRR”), a document that prompts organizations to collect critical contact information on one side, and critical action steps such as evacuation, crisis communications, situational assessment, and prioritizing assets to be protected or salvaged on the other. It neatly folds down into a credit card-sized document piece for all staff, crew, and volunteers to carry on their person – or have available to view on a device – so they have immediate access to information they’ll need in the first minutes and hours of any type of emergency. Download the PRR and Instructions at www.artsready.org.

CERF+ Studio Protector Online Guide is a free resource for artists with a printable wall guide listing essential emergency information, as well as a thorough online guide for: safeguarding, disaster planning, disaster warning, disaster relief, clean-up, salvage, e-salvage, and rebounding.

FEMA – A part of FEMA, Ready.gov  has general disaster planning information accessible from the main page of its website and a section devoted to business emergency planning. 

National Coalition for Arts’ Preparedness & Emergency Response (NCAPER) is a coalition that helps to build the stability and resilience of the arts sector. NCAPER hosts Hurricane Preparedness Tips from CERF+ in English and in Spanish, as well as Preparedness Tips for Performing & Literary Artists in English and in Spanish.

Small Business Administration offers preparedness resources for small businesses, including A Disaster Planning Guide for Small Business Owners


1. Inventory
Creating and maintaining an inventory is an easy way to access information about the work you possess, in the event that you need to account for them to file an insurance claim or apply for various forms of disaster relief aid.Inventory

Use a plain spreadsheet (e.g. Excel, Numbers, Google Spreadsheet) to keep a detailed list of your art. Important information to include are physical descriptions of each work (i.e. dimension, materials, year made, condition) and images (preferably high resolution).

Your inventory list should be regularly updated and stored onsite in a binder or on your computer (and backed-up on an external hard drive). Additionally, it is important to have a copy of this information stored virtually, in the event that the hard copy is lost or damaged in the actual disaster or inaccessible for another reason.

2. Copies of Receipts for Works Sold
Unless your work has been appraised, receipts from past sales may be the only way to prove the value of your work, in the event that you seek compensation for damages cause by a disaster.

Like your inventory document, your receipts should be available as a hard and virtual copy. You can maintain a binder of receipts as well as scan or photograph them and save them in your email or another online document storage program. 

3. Insurance
Business insurance is often misunderstood among artists and for good reason. For some, the idea of insuring their artwork, studio and materials may seem financially out of reach. Others have invested in renter’s and homeowner’s insurance, but incorrectly believe that their work is covered under their policies.

If you have an insurance policy, it is important to speak with an agent to make sure the policy covers the artwork you create. If not, consult art service organizations such as Fractured Atlas or resources such as Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF+)’s Insurance Hub to learn more about options that protect your work as well as policies that compensate you for damage done to your studio and materials.

4. Storing Your Work
In the event of a disaster, it is important to try to prevent damage to your work by thinking critically about where it is housed. Depending on what type of natural disaster or disturbance you may be anticipating, consider placing works in secure locations that are less likely to be exposed to the effects of a disaster. It is advisable to steer clear of basements that may flood, attics that can leak, or windows that can break. 

Check out this guide from CERF+ on protecting your art studio before a hurricane, in English and in Spanish.

5. Know Your Resources
By educating yourself on the array of organizations ready to help you protect your own work and the work of your organization, you can save time and prevent devastating losses.

The National Heritage Responders are a useful example. This task force responds to the needs of cultural institutions during emergencies and disasters through coordinated efforts with first responders, state agencies, vendors, and the public. Volunteers provide advice and referrals by phone at: (202) 661-8068. Ask less urgent questions by emailing [email protected].

More resources:

Image: Lucas Blalock (Fellow in Photography ’19), Lite Blues, 2017, Image Courtesy: Lucas Blalock