While the content and structure of agendas may vary from site to site, the underlying goal of the Alliance for Response forums is the same: to help communities more effectively protect their cultural and historic resources.
The immediate objectives are to:
- initiate an ongoing dialogue between cultural institutions and emergency managers and first responders;
- raise awareness of the need to protect cultural and historic resources within communities;
- encourage disaster planning and mitigation at archives, historic sites, libraries, and museums; and
- develop strong networks among these institutions to improve local response to emergencies.
The forum is the main mechanism by which program goals are achieved. The forum content provides a basic overview of cultural heritage to emergency responders and informs cultural heritage professionals about the process of emergency management.
All panels, presentations, and break-out sessions aim to enlighten participants on best practices in their respective fields and strengthen lines of communication. Topics often include the significance of the local cultural heritage; how the emergency management process works and where it affects collecting institutions; lessons learned from local disasters; and models for establishing cooperative networks.
Forums provide many opportunities to network, and break-out sessions are designed to result in follow-up projects that strengthen the personal contacts so important to long-term partnerships. They average about 75 participants and include professionals from museums, libraries, archives, and historic sites, as well as neighborhood first responders, key state and local emergency managers, and civic leaders.
This resource walks planning committees through preparations and arrangements to ensure a successful forum.
The AFR Tool Kit also provides resources for both nascent and established networks that can help advance their emergency preparedness efforts.