Turning Lessons Learned into Action Steps for Disaster Preparedness

Sunday, June 16, 9:00 am - 10:30 am

No community’s recovery from disaster is complete without the full recovery of its arts and culture sector.  Artists and arts organizations affected are usually the last to receive financial assistance, yet the first to be called upon to initiate the community’s healing process. In this session, hear about how you can get ahead of disasters, with hands-on case studies, action steps, and resource guides so that your LAA is ready at a moment’s notice.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Hear about how one LAA reacted after a natural disaster to support artists in need.
  2. Learn more about how to get prepared before disaster strikes.
  3. Explore the Creative Placekeeping Guide and discuss how agencies can lead their communities back to health after disaster.


Renee Chatelain
President & CEO
Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Renee Chatelain is a graduate of Louisiana State University, holding both a B.A. Degree in History and a Juris Doctor. She is President/CEO of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge.  Renee began her career as a professional dancer and has been a guest teacher for Iceland Dance Theater, Cornell University, among others.  She has been a speaker at the Women in Dance Conference and at the Ballet Festival of India in Mumbai. She serves on the Advisory Board of the American Mural Project, supporting visual artist Ellen Griesedieck.  She has served as Executive Director of Manship Theatre and founded dance programs for two independent schools in Baton Rouge.   Renee is a recipient of the John W. Barton, Sr. Award for Excellence in Non-profit Management, and has been recognized by the Louisiana State Senate for her contribution to African Americans in Louisiana through the Arts.  Most recently, Renee received the Milestone Award from the National Guild for Community Arts Education.

Renee considers her passion project the creation and staging of The Fading Line: A Commemoration of the 1953 Baton Rouge Bus Boycott and is grateful to all of those who know the importance of supporting and advocating for the art.

Mitch Menchaca
Executive Director
City of Phoenix Office of Arts + Culture
Phoenix, Arizona

Mitch Menchaca was appointed as the executive director for the City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture in 2018. An Arizona native, he relocated from Phoenix to Washington, DC in 2009 to lead the Local Arts Advancement Department at Americans for the Arts, where he guided a team of professionals serving and advancing the nation’s 5,000 local arts agencies. Before 2009, he served as the senior director of grants and programs at the Arizona Commission on the Arts where he administered an extensive portfolio of grants from all artistic disciplines. Mitch garnered executive leadership by most recently serving as the executive director for the Association of California Symphony Orchestras and served as the first chief operating officer for Chorus America, a national arts service organization. He is the past chairman of The Association of American Cultures (TAAC); is on the advisory board for DataArts (formally the Cultural Data Project); and was just appointed by the Governor of Arizona as the arts and culture committee chair for the Arizona Mexico Commission. Mitch earned a Bachelor of Arts in public administration and is completing a Masters of nonprofit leadership and management at Arizona State University.

Amy Schwartzman
Cultural Placekeeping Guide

Amy Schwartzman has been working at the intersection of arts and disaster management since 2001. Since 2007, she has been a consultant to NCAPER and a member of its Steering Committee since 2017.  Amy is principal author of its “Cultural Placekeeping Guide” and sole author of “Essential Guidelines for Arts Responders Organizing in the Aftermath of Disaster” and “A National Blueprint for Emergency Preparedness, Relief and Recovery for Artists.” 

She serves as a consultant through PAR to performing arts organizations seeking to create emergency and continuity of operations plans and is co-creator of its webinars “Networking for Disaster Preparedness in the Performing Arts” and “Community Recovery through Arts and Culture.” 

After Hurricane Sandy, Amy was hired by FEMA to work on the recovery of artists and arts organizations in NYS and served as lead developer of CultureAID.  In 2018, FEMA asked her to work with the RAND Corporation on the Recovery Plan for Puerto Rico, focusing on artists, artisans and arts organizations. Two reports explaining this work are due out soon.

Amy previously ran two arts organizations and was a dancer, actress and director, working with artists including Meredith Monk, Blondell Cummings, Alyson Pou and the Kings County Shakespeare Company.