When Disaster Strikes, are you ArtsReady?

A year ago, we told you about ArtsReady, a program sponsored by SouthArts that provides tools for organizations to create crisis management plans. Now, SouthArts has unveiled a brand-new ArtsReady site with a step-by-step readiness assessment, task manager, and “battle buddies” system that will help your organization to protect its assets and continue operations no matter what fate throws your way. Not Just for Natural Disasters

With their work with UC Berkeley and Fractured Atlas, the ArtsReady folks learned that you can’t have a separate plan for each emergency- instead, you need a protocol for any kind of crisis (what’s called all-hazard planning). These hazards can include incapacitation of a key staff member, a financial crisis, and of course a natural disaster. Malcolm White, executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission explained in the webcast last Thursday that “It’s like dental floss, or insurance.” It’s boring, but necessary- and you’ll regret it if you don’t have it.

ArtsReady Features

  • Assessment

The readiness assessment quiz is designed to take less than an hour. It lets you determine which functions are most critical, and how prepared your organization is if they suddenly go offline.

  • To-Do List

Based on the input into the readiness assessment, ArtsReady generates a list of things your organization must address to be prepared for an emergency. But it’s not just a list- you can assign tasks to staff members and track your progress. The software will send out reminders of due dates and can remind you to update your plan annually or semi-annually.

  • Critical Stuff

Katy Malone, Arts Ready Project Manager, describes this feature as a “safe deposit box” for your organization. It’s cloud-based storage for your critical documents. Don’t worry- Fractured Atlas triple checked it for security and reliability.

  • Battle Buddies

If it’s one thing artists and arts organizations have learned from Katrina, Hugo, the World Series Earthquake, flooding, and crazy tornadoes, it’s that disasters are bearable if you have somebody to help you out. The ArtsReady site will connect you with organizations near you so that you can build a relationship and eventually become Battle Buddies- pledging to lend a hand if the other needs help. If you do need to declare a crisis, you can choose how much information to share with whom, and you can track your progress towards gathering the needed resources online.


Anyone can sign up for a free basic membership, giving you access to the Readiness Library. It’s full of articles and step-by-step guides to help you design your all-hazard plan. (Go sign up now! You heard me say it’s free, right?) A premium membership, which gives you access to the four features mentioned above, is $300 a year ($500 for commercial organizations). Be aware, however, that if your membership lapses for more than a few months, you’ll no longer have access to the “critical stuff” you stored in the cloud.

A network like this is stronger and more useful the more users it has. Accordingly, SouthArts’ goal is to get every organization on this network. Let me repeat that- their goal is that 100% of artists and arts organizations will use this product. To that end, they are working with state and local arts agencies as well as sponsors to try to lower the cost for everyone.

If you’re not convinced it’s worth it, take a listen to our podcast with Hannah Leatherbury, former E-Services Manager for SouthArts, and check out the Green Paper on emergency preparedness published by the Craft Emergency Relief Fund and Artists’ Emergency Resources last year.