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Emergency Resources
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J. Emergency Preparedness and Business Continuity

This page features information and useful articles related to emergency preparedness and business continuity planning. 


ArtsReady offers free regionally focused email alerts, an online library of emergency preparedness resources, and links to current recovery aid.

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, disasaster 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. 

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

1. What is A/V Preservation anyway? A/V preservation is anything done to ensure the INTEGRITY, AUTHENTICITY and USABILITY of a work. Creating accessible archives does not just need to happen through museums or private collections. In fact, individuals can take ownership of their materials by creating a database to keep archive records and digitally preserving their work. Doing so helps artists and filmmakers create new work, modify existing work and manage past work. It also increases accessibility should their collection be accrued in the future.

2. Metadata is key! Everything and anything produced in the digital realm has metadata – text  messages, videos, images, and music all contain and are surrounded by different types of metadata (“data about data”) that needs to be managed and saved along with the work itself.

3. Not IF But WHEN…. Preservation is an ongoing process. Fact. It does not matter whether your office is blockaded with hard drives or you are not yet using a system. Technology is not static and as a result best practices for digital preservation are constantly evolving. The fabulous news is that artists and filmmakers can work backwards to prepare and thus minimize emergencies like losing valuable work. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Create AT LEAST three copies of your data.  However, it is not recommended to put more resources into additional copies (3+) instead of allocating those resources into other things like better types of media (servers vs. removable hard drives) or geographically separating the redundant copies.
  • Diversify the type and location of your redundant copies. Mixing methods of storage, for example hard drives and cloud storage, creates more opportunities for your work to exist. Making sure that your redundant copies are stored in different geographic areas increases your odds that a disaster in a specific geographic location does not result in the loss of all copies.
  • If your preservation options include removable hard drives, purchase them at different times and locations in order to buy from different serial batches to avoid defects.
  • Create a regular schedule for backing-up hard drives and storage. Sound annoying? Try integrating this into a routine of already existing maintenance or use a software application that automates the process.
  • The current life of a hard drive is three to five years—maximum.
  • CDs and DVDs can be problematic for individuals pursuing preservation of their work, even the discs marked ‘archival’. Optical media disallows the types of access and automated management that digital preservation requires, and are also very resource intensive to access for management, use for access and migration to new digital storage as it becomes available.

4. You Are Not Alone! Do you spend time bemoaning the pitfalls of old video codecs? Are you seeking lids for canisters of 16mm? Have you been carting around a box of degrading cassette tapes? Do not fear! Digital media preservation may sound overwhelming, but as Gronsbell demonstrated, it simply does not have to be. Grappling with archives preservation and archives is something ALL individual artists and filmmakers experience! As a result, there are fabulous tools, resources and communities to help you get started. Check out the Independent Media Arts Preservation and Association of Moving Image Archivists listed on the ‘Resources’ slide of Gronsbell’s presentation to connect with others.


Natural disasters can prove to be particularly difficult for artists. Inclement weather can interrupt sales and scheduled exhibitions, while a lack of documentation and proper insurance coverage can prevent the receipt of funds from disaster relief programs and business insurance policies that are needed to cover the value of lost or damaged work, canceled exhibitions or presentations, and damaged dedicated studio space and materials.

Below are five essential tips that can help protect your practice in the event of a natural disaster:

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.

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. While others have invested in renter’s and homeowner’s insurance, incorrectly believing 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 Studio Protector to learn more about options that protect your work as well as policies that compensate you for damage done to your studio and materials.

You can also consult the Business of Art Article Business Insurance for Individual Artists about the ins and outs of finding the proper insurance coverage for your practice.

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.

5. Know Your Resources

American Institute Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works Collection Emergency Response Team (AIC-CERT)
AIC-CERT responds to the needs of cultural institutions during emergencies and disasters through coordinated efforts with first responders, state agencies, vendors and the public. Resources and information on disaster recovery and salvage can be found on the AIC website at http://www.conservation-us.org/publications-resources/disaster-response-recovery#.U630uY1dUig

  • Call AIC’s 24-hour assistance number at 202-661-8068 for advice by phone.

  • They can also be reached via email - [email protected]

- Heritage Emergency National Task Force’ Salvage Your Collections
- Library of Congress: What To Do If Collections Get Wet
- Minnesota Historical Society
- MoMA’s Conservation Resources
- National Center for Preservation Technology and Training Disaster Preparedness
- National Document Conservation Center. Hotline: 855-245-8303
- National Park Service Museum Management Program Leaflets on Conservation and Salvage


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