Our Alliance for Response (AFR) initiative brings cultural heritage and emergency management professionals together at the place where virtually all initial disaster response occurs-the local level.
Floods, hurricanes, fires, and other disasters can harm or destroy irreplaceable cultural and historical treasures. But the institutions that safeguard books, documents, photographs, artifacts, and other historical collections can prepare for emergencies to avert or at least minimize damage.
One of the keys to preparedness is a relationship with first responders and emergency managers. They are first on the scene at any event that threatens life or safety, and they represent a local system for planning, response, and recovery that has often overlooked a community’s cultural and historic assets. A decade ago, the idea of cultural institutions working in partnership with emergency management agencies was a novel one, but thanks to this initiative, people now more widely recognize the significance of the relationship.
Launched in 2003, the initiative remains effective by:
- encouraging institutions to complete disaster plans and train for emergencies;
- creating cooperative disaster assistance networks among museums, libraries, archives, and historical properties and sites;
- raising awareness of the importance of cultural heritage in communities;
- influencing official emergency policies and plans.
Recognized as an effective way to build cooperation among cultural institutions, strengthen preparedness efforts, and create ties to local emergency management officials, its impact stretches nationwide.
The Alliance for Response Forums are a series of one-day events designed to help key cultural heritage and emergency management professionals engage in a continuing dialogue, leading to new partnerships and local projects. The initial meeting leads to new partnerships and a variety of initiatives to enhance the protection of collections. The forums foster cooperation among cultural organizations, influences local planning efforts, and enhances the protection of cultural and historic resources.
The Alliance for Response Tool Kit contains resources to help plan Alliance for Response forums, build relationships with emergency responders, identify allies to develop local assistance networks, engage your network, and help find support to sustain local disaster networks.
The Alliance for Response Networks, formed in the regions where forums have been held, have now in their second decade reached several thousands of individuals from more than 1,000 museums, libraries, archives, and other collecting institutions in regions across the country.
The National Endowment for the Humanities generously supports this initiative.