INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FORCULTURAL PROPERTY PROTECTION
Reposted from the Seattle Times
As members of the Seattle Art Museum, Alan Akioka and his wife are always sure to see the museum’s special exhibits before they’re gone, even during the pandemic, but they’ve been wary of crowds, continuing to wear their masks in enclosed spaces.
They were happy to discover recently that they could have the best of both worlds at SAM’s monthly mask-required hour.
From 9-10 a.m. last Saturday, an hour before the museum’s regular opening time, patrons could visit SAM and the Seattle Asian Art Museum knowing that everyone in the galleries, including staff and all other patrons, would be wearing a face mask.
“It’s mostly a comfort level thing,” Akioka said. “I’m not necessarily afraid of catching COVID, but I still don’t want to get sick.”
Throughout the pandemic, SAM has aligned with the guidance of public health officials, so masks were required for entry for much of last year. Since King County dropped its mask mandate in March, this new concept will hopefully be a way to bring in people who are otherwise uncomfortable visiting or are more vulnerable to COVID-19, said Rachel Eggers, SAM associate director of public relations.
There will be two more mask-required hours — the third Saturdays in June and July — and SAM is open to providing more if there is good turnout.
SAM sold 56 presale tickets for Saturday’s mask-required hour, and more than 80% of those tickets were for “Our Blue Planet: Global Visions of Water,” SAM’s special exhibit about the significance of water, which closes Monday, May 30.
Jill Sells, a SAM member who brought her daughter to the exhibit Saturday, advocated for more than one hour a month of mask-required time, but thought Saturday was a good start. She still wears her mask in public places, though the mandate has dropped.
“It’s a good protective measure against COVID in general, so I don’t see any reason not to do it for now,” she said. “Certainly now with rates increasing here and across the country, there’s no reason to be exposing people more than we need to.”
Melissa Rothe and her husband took their three boys to the exhibit Saturday, the family’s first museum experience since the pandemic began. When they discovered SAM was having a mask-required hour last Saturday, they grabbed free passes through their King County library cards.
“I just like looking at all the cool stuff that people have built in the past and things that have happened before us,” he said.
Akioka said he thinks one hour a month is enough and is efficient, allowing people to make their own choice about when they want to attend the museum.
Mikhael Mei Williams, SAM’s chief marketing officer, said the museum initially began discussions of a mask-required hour last summer when the local government temporarily rescinded its mask mandate, recognizing that was a deterrent for some visitors.
“Accessibility and inclusivity are important goals for SAM,” Mei Williams said. “This was something that we wanted to do to make sure that we could give as many people as possible access to the museum.”
Chelsea Leingang, SAM’s visitor experience assistant manager, said the museum has had a lot more visitors since King County dropped its mask mandate, and most of them aren’t wearing masks.
“A lot of people are coming in wearing masks, and then they take them off when they ask us if it’s optional,” Leingang said.
The museum has safety measures in place for staff, like plexiglass at points where they interact with patrons, and most of the staff still chooses to wear masks, including Leingang.
“Absolutely. 100%,” Leingang said. “For my safety and for their safety, and kind of front-line sticking together.”
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Reposted NBC Dallas-Fort Worth
A man accused of breaking into the Dallas Museum of Art overnight and destroying more than $5 million in irreplaceable artwork tells police he broke in and caused damage because he "got mad at his girl."
According to an arrest warrant obtained by NBC 5 Thursday afternoon, a man identified by police as 21-year-old Brian Hernandez was apprehended late Wednesday night at the museum after he forced his way inside and destroyed several items.
The arresting document said Hernandez smashed the glass front entrance to the museum with a metal chair at about 9:40 p.m. and once inside intentionally damaged or destroyed $5,153,000 worth of artwork including several pots and statues.
A guard told police after a motion sensor went off he and another guard went to investigate the concourse and found the man. The guards asked him what he was doing and he said "he got mad at his girl so he broke in and started destroying property."
The guard told Hernandez to sit on a bench while he called the police, which he did. That's where officers found him when they arrived a short time later.
Police did a walk-through of the museum with the director of security and noted multiple art displays and cases had been destroyed.
Surveillance video reviewed by Dallas Police and referenced in the arresting document said Hernandez used a stool to destroy at least two display cases worth $17,000 each along with four pieces, a "Black Figure Panel Amphora 6th Century Greece" pot and a "Red Figure Pyxis 450 B.C." pot that were both shattered. The pots, together, were valued at $5 million. A 6th Century ceramic cup, "Kylix Herakles and Nemeon Lion," valued at $100,000, and the Caddo statue "Batah Kuhuh Alligator Gar Fish," valued at $10,000, were also destroyed.
"The items inside of the display cases that were destroyed are rare ancient artifacts that are extremely precious and one of a kind," police said in the affidavit.
Other items, including a computer, a phone, a bench and signage were also destroyed.
Police said final valuations of the damage done inside the museum may change based on the final assessment by the museum's curator and insurance provider. Photos of the damaged and destroyed artwork have not yet been released.
"While we are devastated by this incident, we are grateful that no one was harmed," the museum said in a statement. "The safety of our staff and visitors, along with the care and protection of the art in our stewardship, are our utmost priorities."
Hernandez was booked into the Dallas County Jail on a charge of criminal mischief greater than $300,000 and is being held on a bond of $100,000. Police said during an interview with detectives Hernandez confessed to destroying the property. Jail records did not list an attorney.
Though some of the permanent collection galleries were closed due to the ongoing investigation, The Dallas Museum of Art was open to visitors Thursday.
Reposted from the Antiquities Coalition
The Antiquities Coalition commends Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for the seizure of 5 Egyptian masterpieces, worth over €3 million euros / $3.2 million dollars, from New York’s famed Metropolitan Museum of Art (“the Met”). A search warrant alleges the artifacts are evidence demonstrating “the crimes of criminal possession of stolen property” and “conspiracy to commit the same crimes.” The Art Newspaper broke the story on June 1.
The seizure is part of a wider criminal probe, involving police in several countries, that has exposed an international trafficking ring operating out of Egypt and war zones such as Libya, Syria, and Yemen. As part of this investigation, just last week, French authorities reported they are also targeting Jean-Luc Martinez, a French scholar and statesman. Martinez headed the Louvre Museum in Paris for nearly a decade and is currently France’s special ambassador for international cooperation on cultural heritage.
The Antiquities Coalition has frequently warned that the $65.1 billion dollar art market remains the largest unregulated market in the world. Museums have a unique opportunity—as well as a responsibility—to set the legal and ethical standard for all who operate within this wider market. Many are thankfully meeting this challenge head on, but this week’s news shows there is much more that can be done.
Here are five recommendations that could have a significant impact:
• Hire an independent, outside firm to conduct a comprehensive and credible external investigation.The Louvre, Met, and all other museums implicated in this matter are public institutions. The public has a right to know whether they followed not only the letter, but the spirit of the law.
• Understand the problem. It is critical to combatting looting and trafficking, recovering stolen works, and ensuring marketplace integrity. The art market and museum community, due both to their unmatched expertise, as well as their unique situation, can help answer questions no others can. There is also a real need to report suspicious activity to relevant authorities when permitted by law.
• Launch an awareness campaign. As educational institutions, museums have an unmatched platform to help policymakers, the art market, and the general public better understand the threats from cultural racketeering and how we can fight back together. Through exhibitions, lectures and other programming, they could reach a wide audience.
• Strengthening best practices. Many of the ethical guidelines, national laws, and international treaties we rely on to combat the illicit trade are now decades old. It is time to upgrade our strategies, just as criminals have updated theirs, to protect both our cultural heritage and the legitimate art market. Museums should be at the forefront of efforts to do this.
• Capacity building. Training in provenance research and authentication, as well as having dedicated museum staff to research acquisitions and object history, can make a significant difference. As this case demonstrates, such steps are also needed to protect institutions not only from unethical behavior, but criminal liability.
Reposted from Security Management Magazine
Do you consider yourself an above-average decision maker? Does logic drive most, if not all, of your security risk mitigation decisions? Think again.
Most security professionals believe that they are better decision makers than the average person, but recent research has proven this is not the case. In fact, security leaders often fall prey to the same biases as the majority of the population, and they may find themselves relying on gut feelings and prior experience instead of facts and probability. Unlike most people, however, security professionals’ biases could have significant ramifications on risk management and safety decisions.
Awareness is the first step to correct this issue, and analysis into security professionals’ decision-making tools has unveiled myriad pitfalls.
Risk management processes—including the guidance published in the Risk Assessment Standard from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), ASIS International, and RIMS—appear organized and can be interpreted as precise, accurate, and objective. External context, likelihoods, vulnerabilities, existing controls, risk tolerance, and options are communicated and considered fairly, driving additional risk identification, analysis, evaluation, and treatment as required.
Closer inspection, however, reveals subjective human decision making plays a major role. Each step in the process is a decision: What do we consider to be part of the context? What threats do we take into account, against what assets, and within what timeframe? Which controls do we compare and what is their effectiveness? Do we evaluate that effectiveness? If so, how and how often?
Subjective decisions like these structure the content of a security management process, and the output reflects the personal judgment of the security decision maker.
This should not be particularly surprising, given the nature of risk. The Risk Assessment Standarddefines risk as the “effect of uncertainty on the achievement of strategic, tactical, and operational objectives,” and the definition clearly indicates the two main components of risk and risk assessments: effects (often referred to as consequences) and uncertainty (often expressed as likelihood or probability). Because any risk refers to a future state of affairs, it is by definition impossible to predict exactly. After all, as Sven Ove Hansson wrote in the Handbook of Risk Theory, “Knowledge about risk is knowledge about the unknown.” The security risk field is dealing with malicious—and therefore manmade—risks. This aspect of security management adds an extra dimension to the uncertainty. People performing malicious actions, such as intrusions or thefts, try to be unpredictable or hidden to evade existing risk controls. This dynamic context—with bad actors’ ever-changing modus operandi and the large variety of situations, including locations and times—adds to the uncertainty.
While past security risks and events help inform the risk assessment process, they do not provide certainty about future risks. Therefore, risk assessments are a combination of experience, expert judgment, and objective facts and evidence. And that judgment—however well informed by past experience—is susceptible to assumptions and biases.
Over the centuries, philosophers worldwide have explored the concepts of human judgment and decision-making processes. Eventually, they settled on maximization theories—humans are supposed to apply a form of rational decision making with the goal of achieving the best possible outcome. For example, a purely rational human would search the supermarket shelves until he or she uncovered the perfect jar of pasta sauce—weighing variables of volume, price, nutritional value, and taste.
In reality, however, few people apply that depth of rationality to everyday decisions. Instead, they grab a sauce that is good enough for what they need and move on—a concept psychologists dub “satisficing.” There are many reasons that cause a consumer to settle on one item instead of another or, from a security lens, to make one risk mitigation choice instead of another. Often, those reasons hinge on personal preferences and cognitive biases.
In 1979, scholars Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman introduced the prospect theory, which clearly identified systematic ways in which humans make decisions that are not optimized for the best possible outcome. Decisions turn out to be less logic-based and more prone to heuristics, mental shortcuts, and biases.
Kahneman, who received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002 for his work, espouses that there are two systems of thinking: fast and slow. Fast decisions rely on intuition and prior experience, and they are almost automatic. A firefighter arriving at the scene of a blaze may make split-second decisions based on his or her past experience with similar events. But if the firefighter confronts bright green flames or some other abnormality, decision making is likely to slow down, becoming more deliberate as the firefighter weighs information and debates possibilities. This takes significantly more brainpower, so humans tend to revert to fast decision making whenever possible.
Where security decisions are concerned, however, it can be invaluable to exert the extra effort to slow down, debate different possibilities, and bring in different points of view to make more informed, rational decisions that acknowledge biases but don’t fall prey to them.
Humans are notoriously overconfident. An infamous 1981 study by Swedish researcher Ola Swenson found that 93 percent of Americans considered themselves above-average drivers. Statistically, this is impossible. But security professionals seem to fall into the same trap when it comes to making informed decisions, believing that the rules of informed and rational decision making can be circumvented with enough professional experience.
One of the authors of this article (de Wit) has studied security risk decision making within both physical security and cybersecurity domains in recent years as part of a doctoral research program. Across a span of three surveys so far—including approximately 170 security decision makers—researchers explored security professionals’ relationship with information and how it affects decisions and the influence of biases on decision making.
According to the author’s research, 56.6 percent of security professionals indicated that even if they lack exact information on the consequences of security risk, they can still estimate it; 60.9 percent said they could accurately estimate a risk’s likelihood, even without exact information. Three-quarters said that situations where they can estimate neither the consequences nor the likelihood rarely occur.
This lack of exact information—which the security professionals were cognizant of—did not influence the confidence they expressed in their decisions. When asked how confident they were in their security judgments concerning the consequences of risks, 73.8 percent indicated they were always confident or confident most of the time. Likewise, 67.7 percent said the same of their security judgment when it came to the likelihood of risks.
Security professionals have preferences for some information sources over others, as well. Experts (76.3 percent) and peers (56.4 percent) were the most trusted, and 62.2 percent said their own experience is very important for their judgment. Only 15 percent said information from higher management is very important for risk management decisions.
The more experience security professionals have, the more confident—and potentially overconfident—they are in their decisions, the research found. Researchers asked whether the security professionals would like more information to make their decisions, and the more experienced professionals refused, choosing to rely on their gut feelings instead.
A huge number of cognitive biases have been identified in recent years, and those biases can wreak havoc on risk management decisions. The author’s research analyzed a set of biases against security decision making practices and found several that are likely to influence risk management.
Certainty effect. It’s time for a gamble: If you had to make a choice between a 100 percent chance of receiving $150 or an 80 percent chance of receiving $200, which would you choose? When the outcome is a gain, decision makers under the influence of the certainty effect will tend to prefer certainty over a 20 percent chance of receiving nothing, even though the choice of an 80 percent chance at $200 can be considered optimal.
Security professionals show a similar level of vulnerability as laypeople for this bias. Three-quarters of security professionals selected the certain but less optimal outcome, indicating that in real-life situations they may not maximize security risk reduction or may spend resources less efficiently. Even when researchers exchanged the monetary gains and losses with security risk reduction to reflect a more realistic situation, this effect guided the decision of the security professionals.
Reflection effect. This is similar to the certainty effect, but the reflection effect looks at losses instead of gains. If you have a certainty of losing $150 or an 80 percent chance of losing $200 (and therefore a 20 percent chance of losing no money at all), people will regularly take the gamble.
Security professionals gamble here at a similar rate to laypersons. When a possible loss is at stake, 84 percent of security professionals take the gamble for a possible higher loss rather than accepting a certain but lower loss. As one might expect risk-avoidance behavior from security risk professionals, this finding is surprising.
Isolation effect. Very few decisions happen in isolation, and when a decision contains several stages, decision makers tend to ignore the first stages and focus on the last one only. This bias demonstrates a level of ignorance about the comprehensive view on a combination of decisions—how one factor will influence another—and it can lead to suboptimal outcomes.
An example from security praxis affected by this effect is one of the fundamental principles in security. A layered defense strategy is the implementation of multiple, independent risk reduction measures. These layers, when taken in combination—not isolation—should reduce risk to an acceptable level.
Unfortunately, you can test susceptibility to the isolation effect, and 83 percent of security professionals in the research chose suboptimal outcomes. What might this look like in concentric layers of security? Most likely the isolation effect would come into play when one of the layers receives an outsized amount of attention and the rest of the layers are neglected.
Nonlinear preferences. One percent is one percent, no matter which percent it is, right? Wrong—at least where human decision making is concerned.
This bias (also known as value function or probability distortion) demonstrates that the perception of 1 percent when changing from 100 percent to 99 percent is very different than when changing from 21 percent to 20 percent. This also works in larger percentage jumps—100 to 25 versus 80 to 20, for example. Both were divided by four, but the change in perceived value from 100 percent to a quarter feels significantly more drastic. (Research has determined that the single percentage change between 100 and 99 percent is weighted to hold the value of 5.5 percent, oddly enough.)
Small probabilities tend to be overrated as a result of nonlinear preferences, which can strongly affect security decisions. For example, the probability of a terrorist attack is usually quite low, but security professionals are likely to devote outsized resources to mitigating terrorism risks, both because of their potential high impact and the bias for nonlinear preferences, adding additional weight to the low probability.
Conjunction fallacy. Consider two scenarios in which you are the security manager of a private pharmaceutical company:
Did the additional conjunctions—“by suspected state-affiliated attacker groups,” “specifically targeting COVID-19 research,” and “using one or more insiders”—change your risk assessment? Logic would lead to the conclusion that the short version is more likely because the additional details make the case more specific and reduce the likelihood. The results of research on security professionals show the opposite effect.
The survey participants were divided into two groups and were presented with either the short or long version of the scenario. On average, the likelihood of the longer scenario was estimated 12.5 percent higher. Nearly three-quarters of security professionals assessed that the detailed case study was more likely than the shorter one, with no significant influence one way or the other for security training or education level.
The research indicated that security professionals are as vulnerable as laypeople to studied cognitive biases. As a result, their decisions are likely to be influenced by bias and might turn out to be less optimal, efficient, or effective. Security and professional experience, security training, and level of education do not show an observable significant effect on circumventing cognitive bias.
However, all hope is not lost. Once security professionals begin to recognize biases at work in their decision-making processes, they can take action to mitigate them—at least on less time-sensitive, large-scale decisions like organizational strategy or broad risk mitigation efforts. There are many techniques available to root out the influence of bias and mitigate its risks, and while extensive research has been done on this topic elsewhere, a few simple suggestions to start with are listed below.
Gather a group. Multiple viewpoints and healthy debate can help identify cognitive missteps and uncover unorthodox solutions. If appropriate, bring in uncommon participants—such as interns, security officers, HR professionals, or facilities staff—for additional perspectives. Consider appointing a devil’s advocate within the group to challenge every assumption and point out potential pitfalls. This person is meant to be somewhat exasperating, so appoint the naysayer with care and outline his or her responsibilities to the group.
Slow down. Fast thinking often relies on snap decisions and intuition, rather than reason. If the situation allows, plan to make decisions over longer periods of time and use that time to gather additional information and input.
Aim for options. Don’t stop after you reach one strong contender to mitigate risk. Aim for five instead. By fixating on the first strong solution, decision makers fall into systems of fast thinking. Requiring additional options will force a decision maker to slow down, reconsider available information and possibilities, and likely arrive at a better-reasoned conclusion.
Undercut the optimism. Optimistic thinking is a hallmark of many decision-making missteps. Harvard Business Review recommended performing a premortem, which imagines a future failure and then explains the cause. This technique helps identify problems that the optimistic eye for success fails to spot. At the same time, it helps decision makers prepare backup plans and highlights factors that may influence success or failure.
Reposted from Colleen Dilen Schneider
When the pandemic first began, IMPACTS Experience started monitoring how the coronavirus was impacting the types of organizations people were choosing to visit. We’ve referred to this metric as the “redistribution of demand.” Now, more than two years into the pandemic, institutions may expect the demand for different cultural experiences to return to pre-pandemic levels. In other words, one might think that the folks who once enjoyed going to the theater over the zoo would by now have returned to their pre-pandemic preferences.
But that’s not the case. The demand for onsite cultural engagement remains redistributed away from some organization types and towards others.
This research has important implications for strategic planning, market potential and future attendance expectations, and engagement tactics.
It’s been some time since we published redistribution of demand data, so let’s start with a refresher on the methodology. We’ve been asking people the following basic question: “On a scale of 1 to 100 where a response of 1 means ‘a significant decrease in my likelihood of visiting,’ a response of 50 means ’the same’ or ‘no change in my likelihood of visiting,’ and a response of 100 means a ‘significant increase in my likelihood of visiting’: How likely are you to visit a(n) [organization type] after the current coronavirus-related restrictions are removed and you are able to resume your normal activities?”
A response of 50 indicates no change whatsoever in intended future visitation behaviors, suggesting intentions to engage with the indicated organization type as they would in the “before times.” Any response greater than 50 indicates a proportionately higher level of demand for a type of organization, and, conversely, any response less than 50 indicates proportionately lessened demand.
This research does not necessarily mean that people prefer botanic gardens to symphonies on the whole. Instead, this metric measures how likely people are to return to their normal, pre-coronavirus behaviors. It means that people whose normal behavior in 2019 was to go to symphonies report being less likely to return to the symphony now. It means that people whose normal behavior was to go to botanic gardens are even more likely to visit them now than they were before the pandemic.
The chart below shows the redistribution of demand as of the end of 2020 and 2021, as well as through the end of the first quarter of 2022. The different timings of the bars are included in order to better demonstrate how quickly things are changing as American behaviors and regulations have broadly loosened.
This finding from the early weeks of the pandemic continues to hold true even now that institutions have long since reopened, many folks have been infected or vaccinated, and most mask requirements have been lifted. Even with these looser regulations harkening back to pre-coronavirus times, people are still behaving differently when it comes to their behaviors involving cultural activities.
You’ll note that redistribution of demand dramatically benefits parks and gardens. It also strongly benefits zoos, aquariums, and some museums. During the pandemic, gardens, zoos, and aquariums generally did (and continue to do) comparatively well in attracting visitors – with some attracting even greater attendance numbers than before the pandemic! Over the last couple of years, Americans have been conditioned to consider outdoor activities and those that allow for greater freedom of movement as more top-of-mind due to safety perceptions. Simply, the pandemic more effectively activated previously inactive visitors to these institutions by providing a perceptually safer activity than other out-of-home competitors for leisure time. People who may have been interested in either going to the zoo or seeing a movie in the movie theater are more likely to choose the zoo now – even if the movie would have won out in pre-pandemic times.
A factor likely contributing to the redistribution of demand toward museums in particular is that people previously interested in these types of experiences are starting to come back. Indeed, there may be some pent-up demand at play for art, history, and other museums. Additionally, science museums and science centers have returned to historic levels of demand. This may generally be considered good news given concerns surrounding touching shared objects during the pandemic.
However, this makes the redistribution of demand away from performing arts even harder to swallow. These organizations have also been adding back programs and experiences to welcome back guests and patrons, but while people are indeed attending these organizations again, their intentions are notably lower than 2019 levels – even among those who consider themselves regular patrons of the performing arts. Predictably, this impacts market potential for performing arts organizations.
This point may be the most important of the whole article: These findings have proven relatively durable over the past two years. While some seasonal variability affects these trends, the data on the whole suggests that visitors have not only adjusted their behaviors in response to the pandemic but have settled into these new preferences as part of a “new normal.” Extant research suggests that new habits are formed in 66 days, on average. At over two years into the pandemic and over a year reducing regulations and mask mandates, visitors to cultural organizations are well beyond this timespan in establishing new habits. Returning to previous visitation behaviors will happen slowly, if it happens at all.
This finding is a good one for zoos and botanic gardens seeking to attract or maintain greater attendance. It’s a potential blow for theaters, symphonies, and other live performances. As a reminder, though, attracting new audiences by way of elevating welcoming perceptions is still an issue for organizations experiencing positive redistribution of demand. While positive-demand entities are comparatively doing better on this front on the whole, attracting more visitors does not always mean that an organization is effectively attracting the new visitors required to sustain attendance into the future.
The other factor potentially influencing the durability of these behavioral shifts is the technological response to the pandemic. Multiple studies indicate that the pandemic has rapidly accelerated digitization trends, and perhaps no visitor-serving enterprise has been more affected by this trend than the performing arts. Accelerated digital adoption coupled with the increased competition from the couch (i.e., one’s likelihood to stay at home for leisure purposes (link)) and technological innovations that enable more robust viewing and listening experiences continue to challenge the market potential of place-based performing arts.
This research does not necessarily indicate that interest in the content presented by performing arts organizations has changed! People are interested in entertainment. However, the pandemic may have shifted expectations around the delivery of performing arts content and how people engage with it. During the pandemic, entertainment companies met us on our couches with releases of robust streaming content. As of the end of 2021, 86.5% of Americans who say they prefer to stay home over the weekend report that they watched a movie or show the last time they stayed home. From a performing arts perspective, consider that the number of people viewing “Hamilton” within its first ten days on Disney+ exceeded the total number of people who had seen the show in person!
Old habits die hard. When cultural organizations shut down, Americans missed visiting them, and perceptions that these institutions are assets to their communities generally increased over the course of the pandemic. But the past two years have been hard, and those old habits haven’t stayed the same. While there may have been hope among some institutions that Americans would return to 2019 behaviors and preferences as soon as the opportunity arose, that’s not proving to be the case. Many behaviors and perceptions shifted during the pandemic. It may be some time before they move back – if they do so at all.
While change is always difficult – especially when layered atop more change – these shifts may represent a strategic opportunity. For some organizations (e.g., parks, gardens, zoos, aquariums, some museums), the durability of the pandemic’s redistribution of demand may be good news for audience engagement. For performing arts organizations, however, these findings are an indication that audience engagement remains altered, requiring consideration of new potential platforms and methods of connection. It’s still a time of trial, creativity, testing, and evolution for performing arts organizations as they invite guests back to their auditoriums, continue to experiment with outdoor experiences, and cultivate online communities.
Americans are inching toward a new normal and life is different than it was in 2019. In some ways it may be better. In others, worse. Cultural executives must continue to lead their institutions in strategic evolution to educate, connect, and inspire their communities – come what may.
Reposted from Artnet News
When Catalan artist Oriol Vilanova exhibited a jacket filled with postcards visitors could remove and examine at the Musée Picasso in Paris, little did he imagine that one person would take the liberty a step too far.
But in late March, a 72-year-old woman took the blue work jacket, which had been hanging on a wall, home with her. According to French daily Le Parisien, she then had it altered at the tailor’s so it would fit.
Upon returning to the museum to revisit the show a few days later, the woman—who had been captured on surveillance camera putting the jacket into her bag—was arrested by the police, who happened to be at the museum looking for evidence.
While in custody, the retiree—who was reportedly “passionate” about art, according to Le Parisien—immediately confessed to stealing the jacket but claimed not to have realized it was an artwork. Police searched her home, where they found it with shortened sleeves.
After a few hours of interrogation, the public prosecutor’s office let the woman off with a warning and dropped the case. According to Le Parisien, the woman had been placed under guardianship.
Vilanova’s artwork belongs to his “Old Masters” series (2017–21), which involved filling the pockets of a blue jacket with postcards depicting artworks by major figures in art history. At the Musée Picasso, the jacket was filled with postcards purchased at flea markets and museum shops, all with images of Picasso’s work. The jacket appeared next to a black-and-white photograph of Picasso in his studio and was presented in “Picasso à l’image” (through February 12, 2023), a thematic exhibition of the museum’s collection with archival photographs, films, and documentaries.
“When the museum told me the work had been stolen, I was surprised, but it was impossible to envisage the story that followed,” Vilanova told Artnet News.
But Vilanova disputes this. “I’ve always exhibited this artwork in the same way in other museums without any problem [as there were] security guards that guaranteed its safety,” he told Artnet News. “Other museums insured the artwork. If I had been aware of the risk of theft [at the Musée Picasso], I would never have exhibited it,” he said, adding that 150 postcards were also destroyed by the culprit.
The theft raises questions about the Musée Picasso’s security system. However, the museum told Artnet News it “proposed to the artist to secure [the jacket] on a coat-hanging system which would have prevented it from being unhooked off the wall.
“This option was not chosen by the artist because the public could not have manipulated the work easily. He wanted people to be able to handle not just the postcards, but the jacket too.”
Due to the nature of Vilanova’s piece, it was “not insurable for the risk of theft,” a point stated in its loan agreement with the artist, the museum said. “The artist was aware of the risk of the object being stolen.”
Based in Brussels, Vilanova describes his method of working as a “flea market studio practice.” His installations of chromatically ordered postcards, intended as a reflection on mass reproduction, have been exhibited internationally. Work from his “Old Masters” series had also been shown at the Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, as well as in Monaco and Belgium, where it was always free from harm.
Reposted from MIT Sloane Management Review
Lately, it feels like “resilience” has popped up as the answer to just about everything. Having a hard time because of a toxic environment? Just be resilient. Struggling to home-school your kids while working 50-hour weeks during a global pandemic? Try some resilience.
Resilience, or the ability to withstand hardship and bounce back from difficult events, is useful when it comes to work. But, too often, it’s presented in a way that overlooks structural issues and instead encourages employees to grin and bear whatever tough stuff comes their way — and to do so on their own, without disturbing their colleagues.
The truth is, it’s much, much easier to be resilient in an environment that makes it easy. Say your team priorities suddenly shift or everyone has to switch to remote work overnight. You’ll be better able to regroup and gather the energy to figure out a new path forward if you trust your manager, feel safe opening up to your team, and believe that the organization will work to support you.
In other words, there’s a difference between demanding that everyone be mentally tough and actually helping them take care of their mental health. As the past few years have proved, uncertainty and challenging situations are often beyond our control. But how leaders respond — that is, whether they make work a place where employees feel supported, or push them until they burn out and give up — is not. Based on the research and interviews we conducted for our new book, Big Feelings: How to Be Okay When Things Are Not Okay, we’ve pulled together five actions leaders can take to create a workplace that supports resilience.
1. Make well-being a collective practice.
Teams can put shared practices into place that make it easier for individuals to improve their well-being. Ask yourself: How can my team better incorporate balance as part of our days? Saying you want your people to have a healthy work-life balance is great, but if their calendars are filled with back-to-back meetings and they get pinged at all hours of the day, chances are they won’t feel safe taking the breaks they need.
To improve team well-being, establish shared rituals. When everything feels up in the air, rituals can help employees feel more grounded — and less stressed. It doesn’t matter what the ritual is: Research shows that simply doing the same thing at the same time can improve mental health.
A couple of ideas we’ve heard from teams: Kick off weekly team meetings with a fun prompt, make a shared commitment to not schedule video calls with each other on one or two afternoons a week, and put 15-minute team breaks on the calendar every day. We also heard from one leader that she’s found it useful to give her team the first five minutes of their regular meeting to turn off their cameras and do something that will help them be more present, whether that’s responding to the email burning a hole in their inbox or getting up to stretch.
2. Look back at how far you’ve come as a team.
A ritual around reflection and recognition can also help your team members connect and build confidence. Successfully navigating change or uncertainty as a team is not about having the perfect plan in place but about trusting that you can weather surprises together.
To take stock of all that your team has accomplished, set aside time at the end of each month or quarter to discuss the following:
Keep in mind that an important part of progress is lessons learned. If your team had to rapidly pivot toward a new goal, you’re not “behind” where you’re supposed to be. It means you’re moving in a new direction, this time with experience.
3. Use one-on-one meetings wisely.
If your one-on-ones focus solely on status updates, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to better understand and support your team members. Worse, you might be inadvertently sending the message that you care only about pressing tasks and to-dos, which can leave your reports feeling expendable and anxious.
Find an alternative channel for status updates (think email, Slack threads, or brief team meetings) to leave more room for personal conversations in one-on-ones. We recommend asking these questions:
Make sure to take action on what you hear, and communicate the steps you’ll take. For example, you might say, “You mentioned last week that you could use more heads-down time. Let’s work together to see if there are any upcoming meetings that could be handled asynchronously or that you could push to next week.”
4. Understand and adjust for different emotional expression tendencies.
While it’s important to create space for your employees to flag feelings or raise concerns, you shouldn’t push them to do so. If things get challenging or the future seems uncertain, let your reports know that you’re there to support them, but make it OK for them to not open up to you in great detail.
When it comes to how comfortable we are expressing emotions, we each sit somewhere along a spectrum. On one end are over-emoters, or people who are highly emotionally expressive. People always know what over-emoters are feeling and tend to turn to them when they want someone to be excited. On the other end are under-emoters, or people who are less emotionally expressive. People feel they can go to under-emoters if they are upset or have a problem, since the under-emoter will be able to calmly figure out a way forward. Even-emoters sit in the middle but can swing either way, depending on the situation. None of these tendencies is “good” or “bad,” but it’s useful to be aware of where on the spectrum your reports (and you!) sit so you can adjust your behavior as needed. (We’ve created an emotional expression tendency assessment that you can use and share with your team.)
For example, say one of your reports is an under-emoter. If she’s feeling overwhelmed by the amount of uncertainty she’s facing, she won’t wear that emotion on her sleeve, and she likely won’t bring it up in a one-on-one conversation on her own. So as her boss, you’ll need to dig a bit deeper by asking questions like, “What part of your job is keeping you up at night?” or “What should I know about that I don’t know about?”
5. Create shared language.
To make it easier for employees to feel safe opening up and trusting one another, it’s helpful to establish shared language. For example, teams at the executive coaching firm Reboot use a “red, yellow, green” system to check in at the beginning of meetings. Red means someone is struggling; yellow means someone feels stressed, but it’s manageable; and green means someone is feeling good.
We’ve also worked with teams to help them create “It’s OK to …” lists. The idea comes from writer Giles Turnbull, who wanted new employees at the U.K.’s Government Digital Service to know that it was always OK to do things like make mistakes or ask a question. He drafted a list, crowdsourced more ideas from his colleagues, and then designed posters that he hung in the office. The final “It’s OK to …” list included things like “say you don’t understand,” “have quiet days,” and “ask why, and why not.”
Uncertainty and change are inevitable. But by putting the practices listed above into place, leaders can create environments for their people that make it easier for them to be resilient. Ultimately, the best and most successful workplaces are those that ensure people feel supported through difficult times.
Reposted from The New York Times
The Smithsonian Institution announced Tuesday that it has adopted a policy that will formally authorize its constituent museums to return items from their collections that were looted or were otherwise once acquired unethically.
The institution’s leaders said the policy, which took effect Friday, represents a shift away from the stance long taken by it and other museums, who had held the view that the legal right to own an item was sufficient justification to keep it.
“My goal was very simple: Smithsonian will be the place people point to, to say ‘This is how we should share our collections and think about ethical returns,’” Lonnie G. Bunch III, the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, said in an interview. “The Smithsonian is this amazing wonder — this gift not just to the country but to the world. It’s really important that we provide leadership.”
In recent years, as conversations about racism and the legacy of colonialism have proliferated, the discussion about the repatriation of the artworks that were stolen, taken under duress or removed without the consent of their owners has intensified at cultural centers across the globe.
Where museums once argued they lacked the authority to return works given by donors or that the retention of artifacts promoted the widest appreciation of ancient cultures, the pendulum has swung toward restitution and repatriation.
With its new policy, the Smithsonian — which includes 21 museums and the National Zoo — is attempting to make a blunt acknowledgment that norms and best practices in the collecting world have changed, and that it is time for museums to catch up.
Last year, Smithsonian officials returned a gold disc featuring the shield of the city of Cusco to the Ministry of Culture in Peru. A collector had bought it from someone working in the country in 1912, officials said.
In March, the Smithsonian said it would return most of its 39 Benin Bronzes to Nigeria — more than a century after they were stolen during the British Army’s 1897 raid on the ancient Kingdom of Benin. Museum officials have said they consider the return of the Bronzes, a name that is used to cover a variety of artifacts, a clear example of a situation in which repatriation was appropriate. Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments and the Smithsonian will share exhibitions and work together on education programs as part of a broad agreement that includes the repatriation of the artworks, officials have said.
“No one ever expects everything to be taken away,” Bunch said.
“But I think it’s important to recognize that museums need to share authority,” he continued. “As you’re looking at returning materials, part of the conversation might be that the best place for materials might be in the museum.”
The policy grew out of discussions last year by a group of Smithsonian curators and collections specialists who were asked to consider whether the institution should develop a policy like the one it has now adopted.
The move falls under broader “collections management” rules that apply to all Smithsonian museums, officials said. But the institution’s collections are so diverse, the ethics policy’s implementation will need to be specifically tailored to each museum.
Officials made clear that although they have adopted the policy, they will not embark on a full inventory of the Smithsonian’s 157 million objects.
“The notion is to say, when we’re doing exhibitions, when we’re bringing in new collections, let us look at it through an ethical lens,” Bunch said. “Or, of course, if we hear from nations or communities about things, that will also trigger the kinds of research that will really allow us to make decisions about where is the best place for those collections.”
There are some items that have already caught curators’ attention.
The Smithsonian has a photo of a Black jazz musician in archives at the National Museum of American History that it got from a collector. But provenance researchers “do not like the history of the photo going back further” than that acquisition, said Linda St. Thomas, a spokeswoman for the institution.
In another instance, the National Museum of Natural History has pottery from an expedition site in Turkey that comes from the ancient city of Troy, she said. It is possible that Turkey will want to locate items like the pottery and eventually ask that they be returned, St. Thomas said.
In a publicly released Values and Principles Statement, the Smithsonian said: “We affirm the Smithsonian’s commitment to implement policies that respond in a transparent and timely manner to requests for return or shared stewardship.”
Reposted from HR Brew
After over two years spent struggling to endure a pandemic that continues to impact many aspects of daily life, many Americans are feeling isolated. According to the 2022 The State of Mental Health in America report from Mental Health America, a nonprofit dedicated to mental health, nearly 5% of adults report experiencing serious thoughts of suicide, an increase of 664,000 people from the previous year. And according to the report, over half of adults (56%) with mental illness do not receive treatment, leaving more than 27 million Americans with mental illnesses untreated.
The campaign. The Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) launched a new campaign at the end of March dubbed “Mental Health at Work: What Can I Do?” The campaign featured a PSA and a host of resources aimed at reducing the stigma often associated with discussing mental health at work. The core message? Every person in an organization, from managers to coworkers, has a role to play in promoting every employee’s mental health and well-being.
In addition to the PSA, the campaign provides an outreach tool kit with language to help companies promote mental-health practices, workplace mental-health resources, including a resource library, and a guide for company leaders and managers to support employee mental health.
Taryn Williams, the assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy at ODEP, believes workplaces are becoming more accepting of mental illness and the subject isn’t as off-limits as it used to be, in part because mental illness can impact anyone.
“We’re hearing that mental health is a concern, especially in light of the stresses brought on by the pandemic,” Williams told HR Brew. “I can say that we’re hearing this as an issue across all industries and companies of all sizes…It’s everywhere.”
In a blog post about the campaign, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh discussed his personal journey with mental illness (specifically, substance abuse) and the importance of having support at work. “I learned firsthand that a supportive environment can make all the difference—to both employees with mental-health conditions and the employers who want to keep them productive and on the job,” Walsh wrote.
Be on the lookout. Williams says that part of the campaign is to educate employers and employees alike that “mental health is health” and encourages leaders to keep an eye out for signs of distress. “We really encourage HR professionals and supervisors to be in conversation with their employees, even as the workplace has shifted.” Williams said. “Staying in contact with members of their team, inquiring about their work and how things are going. Engaging in those sorts of conversations, even if you don’t have that direct interaction, can be so critical for understanding where an employee might be struggling.”
Williams stresses that leadership plays a role in normalizing discussions surrounding mental health. “When they [leaders] talk about the experiences that they’re having, when they are open to disclosing some of the struggles that they might have, that can play a significant role in creating an environment that is more inclusive,” Williams said.
Zoom out. Williams also hopes employers remember that mental illness is a form of disability that can and should be talked about at work.
“Workplaces can become more inclusive of all people with disabilities, including people with mental-health conditions, and we really want to use this moment to continue to break down stigma and myths, and take the conversation about mental health to a different level,” Williams said.
Background checks are a critical tool for employers to help avoid liability for negligent hiring—but navigating myriad U.S. federal, state, and local laws that govern such investigations can be a difficult task.
Why do employers typically get sued for negligent hiring? Because they knew or should have known about an employee’s potential to cause harm, said Lester Rosen, an attorney and the CEO of Employment Screening Resources, a background screening firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“The background check is not to tell you who to hire but who not to hire,” he said during a concurrent session at the SHRM Talent Conference & Expo 2022 in Denver, Colorado, on 12 April.
If you don't do background checks at all or don’t do them correctly, you’re likely to become the defendant in a lawsuit, he said.
Here are six tips that employers should keep in mind during the hiring and screening process.
Carefully review the application with a critical eye, Rosen said. Did the job applicant sign the application and release, identify past employers and supervisors, and explain why he or she left past jobs or has employment gaps?
Not all background screening firms are created equal, Rosen noted.
In 2010, the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA)—which was formerly called the National Association of Professional Background Screeners—created the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP).
“Governed by a strict and thorough set of professional standards of specified requirements and measurements, the [BSAAP] has become a widely recognized seal of approval bringing national recognition to an employment background screening-affiliated organization for its commitment to achieving excellence through high professional standards with accountability that results in continued institutional improvement,” according to the PBSA website.
Make sure your screening system is intuitive and user-friendly, Rosen said. The process is generally initiated in one of the following ways:
Rosen said the ATS should be able to connect to screening firms with a simplified and intuitive applicant process.
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates employment screening and outlines consent, disclosure, and notice requirements for employers that use third parties to conduct background checks on job applicants and employees.
FCRA compliance involves “a lot of byzantine steps,” and many U.S. states have their own additional requirements, Rosen noted.
Under FCRA, claimants in a class-action lawsuit can ask for damages of $1,000 per person, which Rosen said can add up quickly. Additionally, claimants commonly ask for attorney’s fees, court costs, and punitive damages, which are meant to punish the employer and deter future wrongdoing.
Class-action participants may pursue penalties for basic FCRA violations, such as failing to use FCRA forms or provide applicants with proper notice before making an adverse decision based on the results of the investigation.
“Millions and millions of dollars have exchanged hands because of these things,” Rosen said. He suggested that employers ensure all their forms have been reviewed by legal counsel, because it’s ultimately the employer’s—not the screening firm’s—duty to use compliant forms.
A number of states, counties, and municipalities have some form of “ban-the-box” laws that prohibit employers from asking about criminal history on job applications. Employers in these jurisdictions must wait until a later point in the hiring process to ask.
These laws are meant to combat the stigma attached to incarceration. Rosen noted that employment is the number one tool used to reduce recidivism—the tendency of a person with a criminal record to reoffend.
“Don’t use credit reports across the board,” Rosen said. Some U.S. states prohibit the use of credit reports for hiring decisions, and others have very specific rules on how employers can obtain and use such reports.
Employers should be able to show the business necessity and job relevancy of credit history information.
Additionally, employers should be aware of state and local laws that ban or limit questions about salary history. Determining a new hire’s pay based on prior compensation may perpetuate disparities, Rosen explained.
These laws are meant to combat gender discrimination and other forms of bias that result in pay inequity.
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