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Artists and arts organizations play a vital role in communities, particularly during challenging times. However, the arts and culture sector often lacks the preparedness to respond and recover from various crises. The National Endowment for the Arts identified these issues during a convening in April 2016, emphasizing the challenges faced by artists and organizations in crisis-stricken communities. This guide introduces the concept of "cultural place-keeping" as a network-building approach to protect and strengthen local arts and culture communities.

Creating a self-help emergency action network alongside existing disaster management systems fosters community cohesion and preparedness. Building relationships in advance, especially with emergency management personnel, ensures more efficient communication during a disaster. Strengthening the safety net also promotes equity and unity through a network of networks that serves diverse constituents in the arts and culture sector. By connecting with our communities, we enhance our foundation and resilience to face disruptions.

Whether you're an arts administrator, independent artist, or work in different sectors, you can initiate a cultural place-keeping network. The network can span various geographical levels, be based in cultural districts or shared facilities, and align with existing local initiatives or disaster response networks. Additionally, this guide aims to create a community of practice for advancing arts emergency management, and user contributions will enrich the online toolkit with case studies and interactive content.

This Cultural Placekeeping Guide is informed by the pioneering work of CultureAID in New York City. It builds upon ten years of efforts by the National Coalition for Arts Preparedness and Emergency Response (NCAPER). The guide outlines clear steps to help you establish your own network in advance. Funding from the Joan Mitchell Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts has made this project possible.


With frequent and devastating crises becoming more commonplace, it is crucial for the arts and culture community to take charge of their own preparedness. This guide, along with other resources developed by NCAPER, aims to bridge the information gap and provide best practices for efficient and effective readiness and response. Our ultimate goal is to allow you to focus on what matters most: creating and sharing the arts.

Download here >>

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