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Pandemic Restart Toolkit

Toolkit Contents
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This is intended as a planning tool for leaders to use with their boards, attorneys, and insurance providers. It is NOT legal advice.


In some instances, it links to specific business, not as an endorsement or recommendation but simply because it provides a source that is useful for decision-making and planning.

Using this Toolkit: This toolkit is an educational and planning resource for arts and culture organization leaders. It is an attempt to cut through the noise of help that has flooded all of our inboxes. It shifts from the lists of funding sources and emergency response to a safe, smart, creative reopening and future.

On March 11, 2020, I started a blog article. I put it aside to finish the next day. Within 24 hours, the level of understatement those first paragraphs captured. Well, it had become comical. 

As I watched yesterday unfold, I became more and more convinced that the world was fundamentally changing. We’ve seen it plenty of times before – Enron, 9/11, the Great Recession – events that cause immediate response across sectors and industries. The cost of change is suddenly not relevant because there is no choice. We build new skills, create new structures, and invest in new systems. Once that happens there are new costs to changing back.


If all of this stops within a couple of weeks, we will likely revert back with a new appreciation of risk and our resilience. But if it continues for a month, two months, or more? We kid ourselves in thinking that we will revert back. This feels like one of those moments when seas change, new normals emerge – pick your business cliché. This feels different, maybe.

Like everyone else, I started canceling retreats, shifting meetings online, and helping clients gather resources re emergency funding and the like. Now, just over two months later, we are reopening -- scrambling to find reliable answers to yet-unanswered questions, investing in changes that may or may not be permanent, trying our best to do what our sector does... Go Forth. Do good.


As a once-and-future musician, the arts sector is always in my heart. At least half of my work over 20+ years has been in that sector, including everything from not-yet-organizations through state arts agencies. ​This toolkit is an educational and planning resource for arts and culture organization leaders. 

It is an attempt to cut through the noise of help that has flooded all of our inboxes. It is also an attempt to shift from the lists of funding sources and emergency response to a safe, smart, creative reopening and future. So...

Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope.

And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.

E. B. White



Indiana Governor’s Executive Orders (EO)

Back on Track Indiana Health Department

Department of Labor

Other States US Chamber of Commerce tracking HERE; HERE



City of IndianapolisEOs & Action Center

Marion County Health Department

Other Indiana directory of cities/towns

and of county health departments



Opening Up America Again & Resources

CDC Coronavirus Information & Resources​​​

2. First Things First: Are you eligible to reopen?

Authority over location and activity varies by level of government. Even if the state allows something, your local government may not. Organizations and their boards must be attuned to each and READ THE ORDERS in addition to communication documents.


They are THE official direction with the greatest detail.


The difficulty with official documents is that they can't cover everything, and they are written by attorneys who forget that most people think differently from them.

First Things First

Help, please.

I don't understand.

Tips for thinking like an attorney as you read the orders.


Don't rely on communications documents.

Face it. If it is pretty, with pictures, plain English, and no "whereas" it is a communications piece written by a PR type. It is less detailed, less exact, and less reliable. Go to the source - the executive or public health order.

Dates are aspirational, and future stages are undefined until announced (one by one).

Communications pieces are announcing tentative dates for all sorts of things. Read the order. I'll bet you a dollar that the only date that is firm is the start of the current stage. Even the date used for the end of a stage is subject to change. Treats all future dates as aspirational. And expect the specifics for future stages to change.

Pay special attention to words like may, can, must, and shall.

They are used intentionally and specifically. Do not create wiggle room where there is none. For that matter, attorneys say what they mean and mean what they say, no more no less. The problem is that they don't always understand the impact for your sector. Everything will evolve, but for now read everything simply and precisely.

If yours is "like" a business listed, consider your business in that category.

The lists are often intended to be examples using "such as" or "including" at the beginning or "and like facilities" at the end. Don't look for loopholes on how yours isn't like ones listed. Instead ask how your organization IS like them, especially from the viewpoint of a government official who may not understand your discipline.

Read the whole thing, not just the section you think you fit into.

I say this for two reasons. First, the general sections apply to everyone and are likely to include requirements you must meet that are not listed in the business-specific sections - requirements that the communication documents may not focus on. Second, arts and culture organizations are often complicated creatures. They have elements of retail, park, restaurant, entertainment, and more. For example, Section 4 of Indiana's EO 20-26 sets out a specific plan that all entities must have, share with employees, and post to reopen.

Group size is a ban, not permission.

Orders generally say that any gathering OVER a certain number is banned, or they are limited to that number. That means that any group or gathering UNDER the number MIGHT be allowed if distancing and sanitation measures are in place AND if nothing else in the order says that the place is closed, the activity is not permitted, or other limitations are specified. In other words, the UP TO ___ guidance is not permission.

Be careful about your assumptions.

If you hear that inner voice saying that a certain requirement can't include your situation, stop. Write it down as a question to ask your attorney.


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