The Office of Cultural Affairs for the City of Las Vegas received an emergency planning grant from the Performing Arts Readiness project in 2020 to assist with the development of a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) that would address the needs of the arts community in their city. This COOP may be seen as a model for other cities wanting to address the needs of arts organizations and is available for download on the PAR website: https://performingartsreadiness.org/sample-emergency-plans/
Given the catastrophic affects COVID-19 has had on arts organizations globally, including the Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA) for the City of Las Vegas, we changed our mission last year to focus our staff’s time and our facilities on the recovery of our local arts community. Through continued conversations with the Las Vegas Arts Community, we realized that the need for emergency preparedness and response was particularly prevalent in and among the arts community of Las Vegas, including the need for various resources such as rehearsal and theatre space, tables, chairs, technology, and supplies. Upon receiving an Emergency Planning Grant from the Performing Arts Readiness project in September 2020, our efforts began by reaching out to over 100 Las Vegas arts organizations within the geographic boundary of the city via an email campaign to coordinate a city-wide Arts and Culture Continuity of Operations Coalition. To launch this coalition, OCA led by example and developed its own preparedness and response plan with resources and capabilities networked together to address all hazards that could be shared with our local arts community. Our department’s emergency preparedness and response plan outlines each facility and their floor plans along with a list of emergency response personnel including their cell phone numbers, alternate contact details, and their roles and responsibilities. The plan encompasses all possible emergencies, consequences, required actions, written procedures, and maintenance schedules for equipment. The plan also addresses communication, resources and assets, safety and security, staff responsibilities, management of utilities, and regular testing and evacuation drills.
Using some of our Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) elements, we formalized a more widespread plan where our entire community would be connected via shared resources for natural and man-made emergencies. Current members of the Coalition include: First Friday Foundation, Las Vegas Natural History Museum, Mob Museum, National Atomic Testing Museum, Neon Museum, Nevada Ballet, Opera Las Vegas, Nevada Division of State Parks and The Smith Center for the Performing Arts. The Coalition meets monthly for one hour via WebEx in the interest of COVID-19, and the Las Vegas arts community is always welcome and invited to participate in these meetings and join. Some of the topics discussed have been: Purpose and Importance of COOP; Potential risks and hazards that may impact arts and cultural operations such as: pandemics, cybersecurity breach, loss of infrastructure, fire, flood, and earthquakes; Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program and Training; Grant Opportunities; Resource Sharing; Evacuation Routes/Floorplans; Fire Safety; National and Earthquake Preparedness Months; Helpful Resources and Links; Documents and Insuring Your Property.
OCA created an Emergency Preparedness and Response Resource Guide template to be completed by each of the coalition members in preparations for creating their own Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) utilizing the dPplan|ArtsReady online tool presented by Jan Newcomb, NCAPER and Ann Marie Willer, NEDCC on October 25, 2021. This resource guide template details the following areas: Organization Information, Emergency Response Team, Facility Locations & Contact Information, Shareable Resources, Asset Priorities, Alternate Facility(ies) for Operation, Utilities & Miscellaneous Contacts, First Responders Contact Information, Emergency Recovery Services, Essential Records, Floorplans, and Situational Awareness Questions. Each of the participating coalition members’ Resource Guides are housed in a LiveBinder online binder for remote sharing. This LiveBinder also houses our COOP, an Overview, Meeting Agendas, Floorplan Requests, and Information Resources.
To assist with our grant project, we hired consultant Irene Navis for plan development, project management, exercises, outreach, and grant compliance. Irene L. Navis, AICP, is the Managing Partner and Owner of Navis Strategic Services LLC.
Below is an outline of activities conducted and completed by the consultant:
Our consultant reviewed and gave feedback on the planning template, resource tool, information provided by Coalition members, and insurance policies, as well as provided training for Coalition members and CLV staff.
The consultant participated in Coalition meetings and provided CLV staff with information on training and grant opportunities.
Exercises and Outreach
The consultant developed and submitted recommendations for Coalition outreach and training opportunities.
The consultant reviewed grant requirements and updated performance measures to ensure compliance and prepared final progress report.
OCA also obtained and distributed the 2022 Emergency Planning Calendar compliments of the Southern Nevada Health District’s Office of Public Health Preparedness. This resource was intended to help the coalition members and their families take the appropriate preparedness actions and create a 3-7 day disaster supply kit before the next emergency happens.
The Office of Cultural Affairs is using the CodeRED Alerting Service as our emergency notification system. CodeRED uses multi-modal communication (multiple points of entry and delivery) to send emergency notifications and crisis communications simultaneously to tens of thousands of contacts worldwide via common voice and text-based communication points.
The City of Las Vegas’ web-based Continuity of Operations Planning system, “Nevada Continuity.com” is a grant funded project that is designed to only assist Nevada government organizations; therefore, we were not able to utilize this system and include each of the participating art organizations as an addendum to our plan. We also were not able to utilize the system’s free online emergency notification feature. We researched and met with the representatives of Secure Com in December 2021 to discuss its features and price points , but it turned out not to be feasible to purchase for our group. Due to COVID-19, we were not able to plan the drills/exercises to test the plans and identify gaps/areas for improvement.
Through this endeavor, we raised awareness, increased resources, and provided training opportunities that addressed the unique needs of the performing arts industry, including the development of basic tools to assist with planning and advocacy to support network development and institutional preparedness. Out of 90 Las Vegas Art Organizations, 10% have chosen to participate regularly; 50% of those participating have staff trained in emergency preparedness, and 70% have some form of a COOP. As a result of this project, we have inspired our Arts & Culture Coalition to continue to formalize a more wide-spread plan where our entire community is connected via shared resources for natural and man-made disasters.
A copy of the Continuity of Operations Plan for the Office of Cultural Affairs for the City of Las Vegas is available on the PAR website on the Sample Emergency Plans page.
Cheryl Ross ([email protected]) is a Management Analyst for the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs for the City of Las Vegas, Nevada.