Contact The NJ State Council
on the Arts
Mailing Address:
NJ State Council on the Arts
P.O. Box 306
Trenton, NJ 08625-0306

Office Address:
33 West State Street, 4th Floor
Trenton, NJ 08608

Tel: (609) 292-6130
NJ Relay: 711


Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities  
As public access venues, we aim to create programming, performances and environments that are not only accessible to all people, but welcoming and comfortable. Part of being comfortable is feeling safe, and for many people that requires precautions that take into account mobility challenges, hearing or vision impairments, service animals, and more.
Performing Arts organizations need to plan for all emergencies such as, fire, floods, hostile events, transportation accidents, earthquakes, power outages and medical emergencies.  Does your organization have procedures in place to evacuate and protect your patrons?  What about patrons or artists who would require additional assistance?  Emergencies are challenging for everyone, and for those in need of special services it can be especially stressful.

Emergency planning includes preparing your staff and volunteers for dealing with natural and man-made disasters; to support seniors and people with disabilities in preparing for a disaster; and to work with local and statewide emergency officials who are fully prepared to address the needs of artists or patrons with disabilities in the event of an emergency. Often the needs of people with disabilities in emergency preparedness are unaddressed, or plans are not well coordinated, leaving individuals with disabilities unnecessarily vulnerable.
Your organization should have a written Emergency Evacuation Manual that all staff and volunteers are familiar with and trained on.  During training, the methods of identifying patrons who need special assistance and their locations should be explained; some organizations are asking patrons to identify if they need accessibility services, so staff and volunteers know where they are seated. Needs will vary, and the more you know in advance, the more effective your services can be. But even without warning, basic safety training and knowledge can mean the difference between helping and making a stressful situation worse. For example, unless imminent life-threatening conditions exist in the immediate area occupied by a non-ambulatory or person with a disability, relocation of the individual should be limited.  This is a good time to review your emergency exits and identify which have stairs and which have ramps.  Wheelchair accessible areas for patrons should be closest to the ramp egresses.

The Cultural Access Network, a project of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance provides assistance to organizations statewide, including the Resource Library with many accessibility topics including emergency preparedness. Within the Library you'll find sample evacuation plans, like that of The Growing Stage which covers procedures for patrons with disabilities.
How would your organization handle a medical emergency?  Do you have an AED on site, are staff and volunteers trained on the proper procedures and use of the AED?  Do you have staff and volunteers who are trained in basic CPR and First Aid?  If there is a medical emergency, 911 should be called but having training could also save someone's life until medical personnel arrive.  
Want to learn more? I'm here to help.
I'm Ellen Korpar, and for the next year I'll be working as New Jersey's Emergency Preparedness Consultant (EPC). Simply put, that means if you're with a New Jersey performing arts organization and you want to make sure you're prepared for emergencies of all kinds, in all the ways you should be, I want to help you - for free.

My work in New Jersey is made possible by the Performing Arts Readiness project (PAR), a national initiative focused on strengthening preparedness efforts of the performing arts sector. We believe preparedness is the key to resiliency, and resiliency means our treasured cultural resources and venues can continue to contribute to communities in the vital ways we've all come to expect.

The New Jersey State Council on the Arts is a founding partner in the PAR project, and my host for the year. Together we will work to support performing arts organizations of all sizes, and in all disciplines, providing one-on-one consulting and planning services, group trainings, and everything in between. If I haven't met you yet, please feel free to be in touch!

mobile 732-241-6014
office   609-777-3657
The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, created in 1966, is a division of the NJ Department of State. The Council was established to encourage and foster public interest in the arts; enlarge public and private resources devoted to the arts; promote freedom of expression in the arts; and facilitate the inclusion of art in every public building in New Jersey. The Council receives direct appropriations from the State of New Jersey through a dedicated, renewable Hotel/Motel Occupancy fee, and competitive grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. To learn more about the Council, visit 

The Performing Arts Readiness project was formed in the recognition that performing arts organizations are especially vulnerable to disasters and emergencies that can halt performances, and can put an organization out of business overnight. This multi-year project was launched in January of 2017 through a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Project Partners bring together knowledge of the performing arts field and expertise in emergency preparedness. Learn more about the free services, information and support PAR provides, visit