Broadway braces for Hurricane Irene

Variety, 8/26/11

Broadway is battening down the hatches for Hurricane Irene, and Main Stem shows will go on as scheduled -- at least until they can't. Irene [is] expected to hit Gotham on Sunday, when many Rialto productions are skedded to play one or two perfs each. It [is] still unclear just how severe the weather might become over the weekend, but even the threat of such tempestuous weather, much covered in news outlets, looks poised to scare both ticketholders and ticketbuyers away from the city. Another potential hurdle for showgoers: the MTA was prepped to halt mass transit throughout the city as early as Saturday afternoon, should the weather warrant. On the upside, a hurricane could leave travelers stranded in New York longer than anticipated, with nothing to do on a rainy day but take in a tuner or a play. Very few definitive plans have so far been made regarding the Rialto's hurricane contingencies. At some venues, the marquee underslings -- placards affixed to a building's marquee and dangling over the sidewalk -- were set to be removed to eliminate any potential danger should gale force winds blow them loose. One of the major concerns for Broadway shows during a hurricane is the possibility that weather might prevent cast and crew from getting to the theater. One legiter remembered that being a problem when Hurricane Floyd hit in 1999, but not enough to stop any shows from going on. In terms of financial damage, Floyd landed in mid-September, during the traditional back-to-school slump that sees overall Broadway sales plummet anyway. Irene threatens to weaken a summer frame in which sales are generally robust but still slipping during a late-August slowdown. An increase in ticket cancellations, of course, also means an uptick in ducats that become available at the last minute -- and might rep a chance for intrepid theatergoers to score a seat at a hot show. As one legiter cracked: "Anybody who's smart will know that Sunday afternoon is your shot to get into Book of Mormon."


Hurricane Irene scares weekend's concerts into submission
Encore magazine, 8/25/11

As the Eastern seaboard prepares for the wrath of Hurricane Irene, venues are planning for disappointed fans and rescheduled shows. Set to hit the east coast this weekend, Hurricane Irene may follow a number of tracks, and could pass through coastal areas in North Carolina on Saturday on its way toward the greater New York City area by Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center. After the two storm-related festival disasters last week at the Indiana State Fair and Pukkelpop in Belgium, with seven and five deaths, respectively, it comes as no suprise that venues are being extra cautious during the calm before the storm. Ahead of the storm, a number of east coast concerts and festivals have been canceled. We've compiled a list of affected events.


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A peek at a museum's disaster plan, and questions about others

Judith H. Dobrzynski, ArtsJournal blog Real Clear Arts, 8/25/11

This week's East Coast earthquake prompted people to ask about the capital's museums -- what cracks occurred, and so on. The Smithsonian took a big hit, and its "castle" remains closed. There's a broader question, though, which was raised a couple of years ago by Heritage Preservation in the wake, I think, of 9/11. Maybe that's what prompted the Washington Post to write this article, "Curator Andrew Robison Decides What Goes into National Gallery's Emergency Box":

...To merit inclusion in the box, each work gets a thorough going-over by Robison's team. The first criterion is aesthetic: Is it pleasing to the eye, well-made in both concept and execution? Next, historic: does it say enough about when it was made and who made it? Of all the moments of human history to which art can transport us, is this one worth remembering?  And then he has a more nebulous but convincing factor that Robison merely calls "power." Of all the things that could be demonstrated with lines on paper, does this -- through imagery alone -- have a pronounced psychological impact? Does it change minds, just by viewing it?

The article also has this fascinating comment: "In fact, only 27 percent of what Robison first put in the boxes in 1979 is still inside them." Has taste, value, really changed that much in 32 years? With Hurricane Irene bearing down on the east coast, not to mention the coming 10th anniversary of 9/11, I hope arts institutions around the country are having deep discussions about their emergency preparedness. If they're not doing what the NGA is, they should be doing something similar.


Free emergency response services for museums facing natural disaster

Americans for the Arts blog, 8/25/11

After being part of the rare Virginia earthquake and preparing for Hurricane Irene this weekend, natural disasters are certainly on the minds of many of us here on [America's] East Coast. While there are a number of resources available when preparing for or facing an emergency situation from organizations like ArtsReady and CERF+, another group that helps collecting institutions wants to spread the word about their offerings as well, the American Institute for Conservation-Collections Emergency Response Team (AIC-CERT). [They are] offering free emergency response assistance to cultural organizations... when a disaster -- flooding, hurricane, earthquake, fire -- has damaged collections. AIC-CERT volunteers have provided advice to dozens of museums, libraries, and archives, most recently to sites in North Dakota affected by flooding. AIC-CERT teams were on the ground following the Midwest floods in 2008 and in the Galveston area following Hurricane Ike later that year. AIC-CERT members are currently in Haiti assisting with recovery of cultural materials damaged in the 2010 earthquake.

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