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


Because of your role as community gathering spaces, performing arts venues are potential targets for those wishing to cause harm. Whether you work in a college theater, a large performing arts center, or a small community theater, you have an obligation to ensure that your facility is as safe as possible for your patrons, performers and staff.
It'll Never Happen Here
Although the statistical probability of a safety or security issue at your facility is small, things that have never happened before happen all the time. Unfortunately, we know that many performing arts organizations don't make readiness planning part of their standard operating procedure. 
When South Arts surveyed arts and cultural organizations across the country, results showed that 68% had experienced a crisis situation and did not have a plan in place beforehand, and still didn't after the fact. The two main reasons found for this lack of planning are that individuals didn't know where to begin, and that organizational leadership didn't consider the work a priority.  Just hoping it won't happen at your venue is not enough; hope is not a plan.  
Being Prepared Is Part of Your Mission
Successful performances, programs and events are central to meeting your mission. While we all measure success by our own specific goals, a universal truth is that people won't come back if they don't feel safe.  So while you can't always predict what will go wrong, you can plan for it based on the unique needs and challenges of your event  or venue. As they say - we hope for the best and plan for the worst!  
Safety risk assessment and training have a lot of parallels with the event or performance production process. In presenting a play, you analyze the script, identify the roles to cast, select the right people for the parts, and practice-practice-practice. With emergency preparedness you develop a plan, identify responsibilities, assign roles, then train and practice the plan.
Who Can Help Create a Plan?
A lot of information about event safety, including active shooter training and strategies, can be found online. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and FEMA have published thorough safety manuals, and local police departments also have crime prevention officers that can be valuable sources for consultation. The staff of the Performing Arts Readiness project works with experts in the Mid-Atlantic region and around the country in event safety a nd active shooter incidents.   
Elements of a Plan
In addition to the plan itself, encouraging staff and volunteers to be aware of their surroundings is critical. The key to avoiding safety and security issues of all kinds is situational awareness.  
Do not wait to formulate a plan until the worst has already happened. Planning, implementation, training and cont inuing education will provide you and your team with essential tools to protect yourselves and your patrons.
B e pr epared, and be safe.
  1. Complete a Venue Risk Assessment
  2. Develop an Emergency Action Plan
  3. Designate Specific Roles for Staff
  4. Carry out Training Exercises
  5. Schedule Continuing Education
Resources for Planning
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