Continuing To Work

If you have an event, from a minor emergency to a full-scale disaster, you want to consider how to get back to work as soon as it is safe and possible. Lost time without audience interaction can mean lost ticket sales, gate receipts, or admissions revenue. This is the time when the phrase “the show must go on” is totally serious.

Planning so that you can continue to work after a disaster event is extremely important. Business continuity planning helps you have a blueprint in place to resume operations quickly.

When you start your planning, try not to be a lone wolf. Set up a planning team of co-workers from a variety of levels and departments: human resources, office technology and computer specialists, facilities staff, your finance department, executives and service providers.

In a disaster, who will be in authority to make evacuation and reopening decisions, work with the media, or perform other key leadership activities? Will it be your Executive Director or others on the staff? Talk now about establishing who is in authority and consider staff who are in key positions for your most important business functions.

Think about your operations and business activities. Compile a list of all of the functions your organization does, and then identify which are essential functions for resuming normal operations. What resources – people, financial, equipment – are needed to complete those functions?

Keep copies of important records you’ll need to resume your operations and reopen your facilities. Consider storing them in a safe place in your office, and store another copy offsite – consider cloud storage as a location! Key documents may include employee records, bank records, tax files, insurance information, and building-related information.

One of the most important parts of your disaster and business continuity plan is your Evacuation Plan. Who has the authority to call for an evacuation, and who will direct the operation? Who will make sure to shut off building systems as you leave? How are staff and audience accounted for? Work with fire, police, and other first responders to help in developing your evacuation plans.

Another thing to consider – and we saw this work well for organizations that had done planning prior to Hurricane Harvey – is to have an alternative location in case yours in damaged or destroyed. Can you set up a plan now to utilize a nearby facility while yours is recovering? Does the alternative facility have available space, technology, and security, and can it handle your operations and productions?

Finally, you need to prepare your staff to follow your business continuity plan. Discuss how they may need to deal with personal and family issues first, and then work with you to reopen your facility. Good communications policies and systems for staff and volunteers will help.

Planning so you can continue to work after a disaster event is extremely important. You want to consider how to get back to work as soon as it is safe and possible to minimize any lost earned income. Whether you blow glass, stage shows, make pottery, paint, or have another art-related business, returning to work quickly after any disaster requires strategic planning before an event occurs to help protect your career, your artwork, and your livelihood. This step is called business continuity planning and will help you have a blueprint in place to resume operations quickly and effectively.

Whether you blow glass, make pottery, paint or have another art-related business, returning to work quickly after any disaster requires strategic planning before an event occurs to help protect your career, your artwork, and your livelihood. This is called business continuity planning.

So, what is the plan, why is it important and how do create one? A continuity plan is a document that consists of the critical information you or your artistic practice, career or business need to continue operating during or after a disaster. The plan is an essential tool in getting livelihood back up and running quickly to minimize the amount of time you are unable to provide your artistic goods or services to your customers or clients.

Your plan should state the essential functions of your practice or business, identify which systems and processes must be sustained, and detail how to maintain or recover them if you lose full or partial loss of your assets like your studio, equipment, art supplies or documentation.

There are five key elements to your continuity plan:

  1. Key contacts
  2. Alternate locations and arrangements to make and sell your work
  3. Documentation backup and recovery
  4. Alternative communications with customers, clients, assistants, interns, employees, and business contacts
  5. How you will access funds whether it’s cash, savings, receiving and making payments

Now, let’s talk about your finances. The effects of a disaster put a tremendous strain on your livelihood.

Are your finances prepared to make it through the recovery period? Here are 3 tips about finances to consider in your continuity plan:

  1. Set up a line of credit with your bank. Even if you don’t use it during regular business times, it could make the difference when getting back online after a disaster.
  2. If possible, build up an emergency fund that could cover essential business expenses for three months.
  3. Work out cash flow procedures that are disaster-ready, allowing you to pay vendors and receive customer payments even if your studio and office are not operational.

As an artist, having a continuity plan is critical to being better prepared for facing, surviving and recovering from natural disasters.