WARM member Chris Madsen recently attended an emergency preparedness workshop for artists presented by Springboard for the Arts. Here is what she learned about how artists can save themselves time and money by being prepared.
What happens to your art business if water seeps into your basement? What if it floods? What if an electrical fire destroys your studio next to your home? What happens if your kiln catches fire? What if your computer is stolen, with all your images? Your finances? Your mailing list? What happens if a tree falls on your home studio, after straight-line winds rip it up? What if a student is injured in your house while attending a workshop? What would you do first? Where would you turn?
Disaster Preparedness training: a topic both “boring and terrifying” according to CERF Director of Programs, Craig Nutt. While it’s human nature to want to avoid the issue, it’s in our best interest to address it before something happens. Actually artists today are much luckier than those in the past. First: thanks to the media, we’ve seen what really happens after disasters, whether hurricane, fire, flood or tornado. Forewarned is forearmed. Second: we have access to more resources than at any time in the past. It costs less now to protect ourselves in both time and money.
On October 6th, WARM, along with several other local arts organizations, was invited to attend a training session by the non-profit agency CERF, Craft Emergency Relief Fund. CERF was founded 26 years ago after an artist and an administrator participated in yet another pass-the-hat following a disaster. They decided to be proactive and pull together resources, grants and information ahead of time, to prevent what could be avoided and to offer immediate relief for that which was unavoidable.
The presentation on Thursday included before and after pictures of studios lost to disaster as well as video testimonies from artists, some of which are on the website, under “Artists’ Stories.” To make the subject even clearer, John Herbert, of Legion Arts in Cedar Rapids, IA, came in person to talk about life after the 500-Year Flood of 2008. His organization escaped by being on an upper floor, so it was poised to help other artists cope, locate gallery venues and funnel donations totalling $18,000 in small grants to artists in need.
In 2007 CERF made a survey of 3,000 artists which revealed that 69% of working artists were not properly insured while 22% of them mistakenly assumed that their homeowner’s policy covered their home-based business.
For this training, CERF brought in an insurance agent to talk about property and liability coverage. The good news? A policy that cost $3,500 in 1994, costs $350 in 2011, for the same coverage. You can add a rider onto your homeowner’s policy to cover clients that come to your house, sometimes for as little as $12 a year. One day special event coverage can cost as little as $150. Insurance information is on the CERF website under the Studio Protector Online Guide; more information can be found on Fractured Atlas, a nonprofit organization that operates nationally to serve artists.
CERF’s Studio Protector Online Guide is loaded with essential information to both prevent disasters and to deal with them when they occur. You’ll find practical information, like how to salvage a wet cell phone or how to hold off mold from documents utilizing freezers until you have time to dry them. You’ll also find links to organizations that provide specific resources on finances, loans, insurance, outreach, advocacy, etc. They’ve attempted to keep this website lean and meaty, so it’s pertinent and useful, yet not overwhelming. It’s completely free to use.
For those who like hard copies, CERF also produced a resource called The Studio Protector available for $16, or at wholesale for orders of 10 or more. It’s an incredible piece, heavily designed to make maximum use of space. It broaches many of the essentials from the website in easy to understand graphics and text, covering a wealth of topics including evacuation, art, asset and archive protection, clean-up tips as well as physical salvage and e-salvage. It’s a joy just to open, spin and pull out the separate sections. There’s even a removable booklet to put 911 numbers, emergency contact and art contact information that you can fill out before trouble strikes.
This presentation was offered through Springboard for the Arts, an organization whose mission “is to cultivate a vibrant arts community by connecting artists with the skills, contacts, information and services they need to make a living and a life.” If you haven’t already become familiar with their work, now is a good time. Click on the link to check them out. Then, before you think about it too much, do two things: 1) click on CERF to start the process of protecting your art business. In Minnesota, we’ve seen what tornadoes and flooding can do. 2) Tell another artist or arts organization about these resources. Let’s make art disaster preparedness go viral!
Chris Madsen is an artist who does Photoshop collage using antique photographs surrounded by needlework, symbolic and floral images; and makes tiny polymer clay houses with doors that open. Chris also has an art blog, Everyday Friends Art, and an Everyday Friends Art Etsy site.