College of Charleston and Charleston Regional Alliance for the Arts Partner with Local and Regional Arts Organizations for Emergency Preparedness Workshop


Atlanta, GA – Disasters come to arts organizations in countless unexpected forms: hurricanes, theft, arson, accidents. According to the Small Business Association, an important step to prepare for unplanned occurrences is through a Business Continuity Plan. On November 9 from 9 a.m. to noon, the College of Charleston School of the Arts and the Charleston Regional Alliance for the Arts will host a free workshop discussing emergency preparedness tactics for arts organizations.

The workshop will include a panel discussion led by leaders with experience in the field of readiness planning: Susie Surkamer from South Arts, which developed the web-based ArtsReady.org business continuity planning platform; Harry Rollins from ProPac, a North Charleston based supplier of disaster supplies and techniques; Tom Crosby from Lowcountry CERT, Charleston’s volunteer organization dedicated to emergency response; Rusty Sox from the South Carolina Arts Commission; Marty Besancon from the North Charleston Cultural Arts Department; and Jean Harrigal from the Colleton Center.

“We developed ArtsReady to address a critical need in the arts community,” explains Surkamer. Each year, dozens of arts organizations suffer major losses or disruptions to their services through crises large and small. “Especially after a major event, people seek out their local cultural organizations for solace, strength, and togetherness. ArtsReady and other emergency preparedness tools aim to prevent us from becoming victims so we can support our communities.”

Randy Beaver, the Director of Environmental Health and Safety at the College of Charleston, also will speak about how an organization should prepare for emergencies when it is part of a larger institution. In addition, he will touch on policy issues that all organizations should consider.

Although South Carolina arts organizations may feel prepared for storms and hurricanes, it is the unexpected crisis that can truly cripple their operations. For example, in February 2012, the Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes in New York was faced with devastation as an elderly driver accidentally crashed into their offices, starting a small fire and injuring himself. The crash put their building in danger of collapsing in the midst of their season ticket renewal process. During the seven-month reconstruction process, an act of vandalism damaged one of their large windows. The entire process drained financial and personnel resources in an organization that was unprepared. “This demonstrates how fragile things can be,” said Janet T. Newcomb, former Executive Director of the Orchestra of the Southern Fingers Lakes. “ArtsReady could be a great resource for people in a spot like we were in.”

Attendees at the free workshop will gain a sense of the tools and options available to ensure business continuity in the face of a crisis. Following the panel, audience participants will have the opportunity to interact with panelists and each other to further discuss the theme.  Attendees will also receive a complimentary preparedness pack courtesy of ProPac. The workshop is co-sponsored by South Arts, the College of Charleston School of the Arts, and the Charleston Regional Alliance for the Arts. For more information on attending the workshop, please contact Lily Hunt at lily@artscharleston.org or 843.577.5288.

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Contact: Ivan Schustak
ischustak@southarts.org, (404) 874-7244 ext. 29

About South Arts

South Arts, a nonprofit regional arts organization was founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts’ work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. South Arts offers an annual portfolio of activities designed to address the role of the arts in impacting the issues important to our region, and to link the South with the nation and the world through the arts. For more information, visit www.southarts.org.