The North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources (NCDCR) recently received a grant to extend and expand its statewide disaster preparedness program started under the Connecting to Collections (C2C) initiative. The IMLS 21st Century Museum Professionals grant will allow the Cultural Resources Emergency Support Team (CREST) project to train staff and volunteers from a wide variety of museums in improving disaster preparedness initiatives throughout North Carolina. The CREST project will provide participants specialized, hands-on, disaster planning and recovery training, and a statewide response team will be organized to respond to disasters affecting museum collections.
Small to mid-size institutions across the state have tremendous capacities to increase access to their cultural heritage collections, thereby engaging their local communities and encouraging growth. Moreover, they often have dedicated staff and volunteers who desperately want preservation training and professional guidance. Grant funded staff will work with professionals across the state in order to administer the CREST programs over a two-year grant project:
1. Disaster supplies and response teams: CREST staff will encourage the formation, development, and maintenance of regional cooperative groups and emergency response networks. A statewide disaster response team will establish a recovery and preservation resource for any disaster-affected museum in the state. IMLS funding will enable staff to stock a cache of recovery supplies in Raleigh that could be mobilized quickly to aid in response. Grant funding will provide specialized team training to encourage a unified and safe approach to recovery efforts. Team members will be equipped with basic “go kits” of safety supplies in the event that they are mobilized for response. Team members will facilitate formation of localized response teams in their areas.
2. Workshops: IMLS support will allow a more specialized workshop schedule and expanded curricula for staff and volunteers of museums to prepare them for disasters with planning and hands-on recovery exercises. Through a growing statewide network, project staff will continue to identify and partner with other experts across the state in order to provide a rich variety of training opportunities in preparedness, recovery, and planning topics.
The Federation of North Carolina Historical Societies, the North Carolina Museums Council, and the North Carolina Preservation Consortium have partnered with the CREST project and will offer assistance to the grant project through resource sharing, networking, and outreach.