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:
225 West State Street, 4th Floor
Trenton, NJ 08608

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

Performing Arts and Community Response and Recovery 
In the aftermath of the storms that ravaged the Southwest, Southern States and the Caribbean, and the historic wildfires that have devastated California and the Northwest, it is important for the Performing Arts Community to think about where they stand in relationship to Disaster response and recovery. Long-Term Community Recovery after a Disaster has its foundation in the Whole Community Approach; this approach looks at all parts of the community; residents and public and private sectors being involved in a holistic way of reshaping their future.
Many performers live in the communities where they perform so they have emotional and economic reasons for helping the community recover. The arts can help hard-hit communities start to recover their local economies and prepare for the next disaster; the arts can also play an important role in helping the community recover emotionally. Many times, after a disaster the arts community economy recovers more quickly than the rest of the community's economy; performances may be rescheduled to another venue and the community is eager to return to normalcy which the arts can help bring back.
As some New Jersey organizations have learned and demonstrated over the years, there are many ways that the performing arts can help a community to respond and recover from a disaster. If the facility was not damaged and functional but can't put on performances, they may open the facility as a shelter or reception center for the community. If the venue is functional and able to provide performances, they may do so at a discounted rate or specifically do performances for first responders and volunteers. If there are shelters open, the performers might provide entertainment to the shelter residents or performances at schools or hospitals for children who may be displaced from their homes and are dealing with that trauma. Hurricane Sandy devastated dozens of towns in Monmouth County and most of the county was without power and heat. People were struggling to stay warm, get information and connect with resources. When Monmouth Arts and two Red Bank performing arts venues, the historic Count Basie Theatre and the Two River Theater got electricity back three days after the storm, they opened their doors to become warming stations giving people a place to recharge phones, have a warm drink and get information. As soon as curfews were lifted, venues throughout the county resumed performances to give people a chance to take a break from the recovery efforts. As the recovery effort continued, the performing arts became an important part of the healing process for individuals.
Staff and volunteers at your performing arts venue should also be prepared for all types of emergencies; it is important that they have a family emergency plan in place. Being familiar with the basics of Disaster Response and Recovery is extremely helpful. Encourage them to get trained in the basis of emergency response so that they are familiar with the terminology and how the Incident Command System works (this system is also useful when developing your organization's Emergency Action Plan). Form a partnership with your local Office of Emergency Management and other non- governmental organizations that are involved with Disasters; through these collaborations your organization will be included in the planning of responses and recovery of your community. The Performing Arts Readiness Project will be introducing a webinar on Performing Arts and Community Response in early Spring.
Here are some additional resources to consider:
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!

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