Continuity Planning for Your Art Business: An Introduction

By Kelly Urbizu, Business Resources Manager, Institute for Business and Home Safet

Photo: Joe Mabel, licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0

Whether you blow glass, sculpt stone, do computer graphics or have another art-related business, returning to work quickly after any sort of catastrophic event requires strategic planning before the event occurs. This is called business continuity planning.

Whatever your art business, the three main objectives of any continuity plan are to:

  • protect people (employees plus visitors) and property;

  • at a minimum, get your critical business functions back up and running quickly; and

  • minimize the amount of time you are unable to provide your goods or services to your clients.


1. Where are you vulnerable?
You can’t plan for everything — but you can think about what events have the most potential for disrupting your art business. Here are a few basic areas you can look at:

Geographic Location: What’s the potential in your location for natural disasters (hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.), toxic spill exposure or transportation blockages? How would these events affect your ability to work?

Building Structure: How vulnerable is your building to damage from a windstorm, earthquake, wildfire or other natural hazard? Is it a modern, well-designed building, or an older one that may have been constructed under outdated building codes? What areas could be hazardous?

Building Infrastructure: How often do you perform maintenance on your HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems?

Equipment and Machinery: Do you need specialty equipment to do your daily work? If you lost access to these for a time, would your business suffer?

Vendor/Supplier Continuity: Do you count on third-party services or regular delivery of supplies? 

Data Storage: Could your art business survive if you lost access to your files for a period of time? Do you have files that are irreplaceable and critical to the operation of your business?

2. How can you prepare to keep the business going?

Here are some suggestions:

Create a mutual aid agreement with other studios to use each other’s facilities if the need arises. Check for compatibility of materials and equipment.

Back up your computer files, or store copies of important documents off-site where you can access them in the event of a regional disaster, usually at least 50 miles away. (See Backing up Your Computer: the Basics.)

Routinely inspect and maintain critical and specialty equipment and machinery, to make sure all parts are in working order and to catch a potential problem before it occurs. Schedule regular maintenance inspections, particularly for electric equipment, to reduce the chance of fire.

Research alternate sources of supply, in case your regular vendors and suppliers become unavailable. 

Perform area-specific retrofits on your building: In earthquake-prone areas, make sure all couplings and pipes are flexible, not rigid. If you’re prone to power outages, consider a generator. Visit for more peril-specific retrofit project ideas.

Research appropriate fire suppression systems to find effective products or systems that will prevent damage to artwork. Contact the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) for more information.

Continue to review your vulnerabilities and refine your plan at least once a year. Train your staff and inform key contacts of their role in your recovery from a business interruption.

Need a little more guidance? Try the Open for Business basic trainer on This eight-session series will guide you through the planning process and give you the option to receive e-mail reminders that will help you blend your planning process into your many other responsibilities.