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  • July 26, 2022 12:19 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from The Art Newspaper

    On the day temperatures reached a record high in the UK, topping 40C, the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London closed a number of galleries. The move comes after the staff union Public & Commercial Services (PCS) called on both institutions to adopt appropriate safety measures.

    According to the advocacy group the UK Museums Association, PCS raised ongoing concerns with the British Museum regarding poor indoor air quality in the extreme heat, highlighting staff safety issues. Asked if the museum closed early following pressure from the union, a spokesperson for the British Museum says that due to the Red National severe weather warning, the museum closed at 15.00 on 18 and 19 July.

    She adds: “During opening hours, we also temporarily closed some of the upper levels of the museum to ensure the comfort and safety of staff and visitors. The museum remained open and also accessible online. We continue to monitor the situation and measures we have in place and will take any further actions necessary. The galleries available for viewing this week may be subject to change.”

    The list of available and closed galleries can be found on the British Museum website and is regularly updated; at present 46 galleries are listed as being closed at different times from 2022 to 2023. Galleries may be closed for maintenance, refurbishment or private events.

    According to the online news outlet Novara Media, Nick Marro, the co-secretary of the PCS Victoria & Albert Museum branch, “negotiated the distribution of fans and cold water for front-of-house staff, the relaxation of uniform guidelines, and the closure of galleries that reach 30C or above”.

    There were some gallery closures at the V&A but most areas remained open including the British Galleries on level one; a spokesperson did not respond to a request for further comment at the time of writing. All four Tate galleries, including Tate Modern, and the Royal Academy of Arts in London did not cut opening hours earlier this week.

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  • July 26, 2022 12:13 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from AAM

    The “Strategic Foresight: How to survive an era of uncertainty” section of the 2021 TrendsWatch report discusses some of the many “cataclysms” that have been stacking up against institutions in recent years: climate disasters, economic crises, social/cultural disruptions, political turbulence, and technological threats. While the museum education world has been responding to these things for many years now, either through planning or direct reaction, TrendsWatch suggests that we may need to rethink our methods.

    To truly prepare for the future, the report’s author Elizabeth Merritt argues, we should embrace the discipline of “strategic foresight”—a process that requires “fundamental shifts in how we assess risk, navigate uncertainty, and create strategies that can succeed no matter what transpires.” By following a plan of “scanning, exploring implications, creating visions, and making choices,” she says, institutions of any size can learn to “manage uncertainty and prepare flexible, adaptive responses.”

    This structured approach can be especially useful in planning for a cataclysm like climate change, with its broad extent, significant impact, and plethora of unknowns. Already, some museums have started to demonstrate this. The Climate Museum, a non-profit and “the first museum dedicated to climate change and climate solutions in the United States,” has laid out some practical ways for institutions to take action, while other institutions have acted by hiring for positions that specifically respond to climate change. Take, for example, the Royal Ontario Museum’s (ROM) recent hiring of Dr. Soren Brothers as the Allan and Helaine Shiff Curator of Climate Change—a position that is partially devoted to weaving “evidence-based research and knowledge into ROM programming, exhibitions, and education [in order to] raise awareness and inspire ecological citizenship and action on the climate emergency and sustainability.” As a representative of one of Canada’s largest museums, Dr. Brothers has stated that he would like to provide community resources and work on climate adaptation and mitigation.

    While most teams would likely benefit from having someone in a position like this, dedicating an entire staff role to these issues is a privilege that not all are able to afford. So, at a smaller scale than the ROM, what are some things that educators can do to help plan for climate change?

    Taking Action: Invasive Species

    One good example of a simpler plan put into action is the partnership program between Vermont Urban and Community Forestry (VT UCF) and several museums located throughout the state. Working with the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, the Montshire Museum of Science, the North Branch Nature Center, the Birds of Vermont Museum, and the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum, the organization created a collection of interpretive signs to display at various locations that addressed an issue partly connected to climate change: the spread of invasive species.

    “We were trying to think of creative ways to educate the public about the signs and symptoms of the pest,” said Ginger Nickerson, a Forest Pest Education Coordinator who works in education and outreach at VT UCF. “We knew that it was a matter of time before the infestation would be state-wide, but we wanted to slow the spread as much as possible to give municipalities time to plan for the loss of their ash trees.”

    VT UCF partnered with the museums in order to effectively reach its desired audience. “Since so many people visit our museums, museums and nature centers seemed like natural partners for reaching a broad audience of both residents and visitors,” Ginger explained.

    We asked her what advice she would offer to any institutions looking to execute their plans and create similar content or programming surrounding issues such as climate change or the emerald ash borer. She shared that working with previously known artists and museums in their community was key—a blueprint that many institutions could follow within their own networks.

    Other museums, particularly those with extensive outdoor properties or that focus on local conservation, might want to follow their lead when it comes to awareness and advocacy around invasive species. If so, the USDA’s resources can be a helpful place to start.

    Taking Action: Flooding

    Support from the community helped buoy two museums in Delaware following a historic flooding event. The remnants of Hurricane Ida made their way into the region early in September 2021, ultimately reaching twenty-three feet above flood stage in the Brandywine River Creek. This one-hundred-year rainfall event flooded two museums situated on the creek—The Brandywine River Museum of Art and Hagley Museum and Library.

    “No works of art were harmed in this event, but the museum was closed for three months and there was significant damage to a multipurpose program space, some office and storage areas, and to other buildings that house offices on the museum’s campus,” said Mary Cronin, Dean of Education and Public Programs with the Brandywine River Museum of Art. The museum was later able to reopen in December thanks to federal and state relief funds, donations from the community, and its relationship with the nearby Brandywine Conservancy, where it relocated some of its operations temporarily as it repurposed its spaces for programming.

    In addition to sharing physical space, the museum and conservancy have continued their ongoing educational collaboration, where the museum incorporates the work of the conservancy’s riparian-zone restoration and understanding of the ecological landscape into its programming and exhibitions to explore the intersectionality of art and nature. This partnership helps the museum strengthen its approach to discussing topics such as climate change with its audience, which Mary says “will have even more relevance now, based on Brandywine’s recent history.”

    Hagley Museum and Library was poised to return to semi-normal museum operations following pandemic closures when the remnants of Hurricane Ida made their way to the region. Then, its staff’s months-long work to reestablish school programs and install a brand-new exhibit, set to open in September, was put to a stop. Mike Adams, Director of Museum and Audience Engagement at the Hagley, said that “probably the biggest thing we learned is that every museum should be preparing for weather-related disasters regardless of location.” The Hagley had never experienced flooding like this in its 220-year history, and staff have the records to prove it.

    Now, this experience has them rethinking their operational layout. “To mitigate the effects of future disasters—it’s not ‘if,’ but ‘when’—we are relocating our utility systems to ‘high ground,’” Mike shared. Utility systems, storage, the structural integrity of their historic buildings—they are looking over everything to ensure a future event will not wreak nearly the same level of losses and damage. Furthermore, they are also learning to account for the long-term effects such an event can have. Early in spring of 2022, months after the flooding, they were able to begin the process of dredging areas deeply affected by the storm, and with certain areas unsafe to enter, their school programs have been limited.

    Both the Hagley and Brandywine River Museum of Art have been able to welcome back visitors with changes to day-to-day operations while repairs are underway to flooded areas, which they aim to reopen in 2022. But they do not intend to put the experience behind them. This was not the first time in recent memory the Brandywine has significantly flooded. Hurricane Floyd in 1999 brought seventeen feet of water, and a significant rainfall event in May 2014 brought twenty-one feet. “The flood in 2014 was described as a ‘once every hundred years’ flood,” Mike said. “Seven years later the Brandywine beat its old record by 15 percent. … Going forward I don’t think we’ll be surprised when the next flood comes. The question will be about how quickly we can repair, recover, and reopen.” With such events becoming a question not of if but when, these institutions, and others like them along floodplains, will need to devise strategies to reduce the likelihood of a repeat performance.

    To kickstart these strategies, the respective museum boards are engaged in ongoing discussions with local experts, such as the Water Resource Center at the University of Delaware. The center’s comprehensive report comes with steps the region could take to mitigate such disasters in the future, and the leadership and board of the Brandywine Museum of Art are engaged in talks for protecting their respective surrounding areas along the Brandywine River while making improvements to their facilities.

    Climate change has the potential to deliver heavier, more impactful storms that may lead to historic flooding events in the near future. At any moment one’s plans may be diverted due to changing conditions. Mary concluded by saying this event has solidified her view that museum educators must possess “the ability to be flexible, to adapt to changing conditions, and to develop programs that explore current topics through both contemporary and historical works of art.” These “essential skills for any museum educator” will ensure a level of preparedness as museums move to address trends that may disrupt their work.

    Mike urges all museums to learn about FEMA. “Since all museums should expect to face some kind of weather-related disaster, every museum professional, especially museum leaders, should learn about FEMA before they need it,” he said. He recommends museums start forming connections with their state and local disaster preparedness and response agencies now, and collect contact information for firms that work in areas like restoration and structural engineering so the process of hiring them is easier when needed.

    Even better than preparing for a swift response if a flood comes, museums can forecast how likely one is to come with tools like updated flood risk maps. This way, they can start preventing damage before the water comes lapping at their door.

    Taking Action: What Can You Do?

    The TrendsWatch report states that an important part of implementing strategic foresight is identifying the trends and events that could have the biggest impact on an institution and its community. Particularly when it comes to climate change, this means considering scenarios that might seem unlikely now. Mike quipped, “If someone told me six months ago that we’d have to worry about a hurricane traveling fifteen hundred miles from the Gulf of Mexico up and over the Appalachian Mountains, slowing down in Southeast Pennsylvania, and causing historic flooding in Delaware, I wouldn’t have believed them.”

    No matter the size or location of your institution, to prepare for the issues that climate change will be bringing your way, you might ask yourself some basic questions like: What about climate change stands to most affect my institution? How can my institution address climate issues through education and interpretation?Answering questions like these could help provide the preparedness that both you and your audience need. Whether your issues are invasive species, flooding, or something else, following the strategic foresight process laid out by TrendsWatch could help your institution navigate to the best possible outcome.

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  • July 13, 2022 9:34 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from NPR

    When the Kentucky Legislature started mulling a bill that would tighten control over public libraries earlier this year, librarians across the state called their lawmakers pushing for its defeat.

    In the past, legislators would at least have heard them out, says Jean Ruark, chair of the advocacy committee of the Kentucky Library Association. Not this time.

    "It seemed as though our efforts fell on deaf ears. There was a big outcry about the passage of that and they did it anyway," Ruark says.

    At a time when public school libraries have increasingly become targets in the culture wars, some red states are going further, proposing legislation aimed at libraries serving the community as a whole. A few of the bills would open librarians up to legal liability over decisions they make.

    While some of these bills have quietly died in committee, others have been signed into law, and librarians worry that the increasingly partisan climate is making them vulnerable to political pressure.

    "We're seeing more indirect efforts to control what's available to the community or to put in laws that would direct how the library staff collects books," says Deborah Caldwell Stone, director of the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom.

    "A lot of this legislation is really concerning, largely because of the breadth and scope of it, but also because it removes local control from communities," says Patrick Sweeney, executive director at EveryLibrary, an advocacy group that tracks the legislation.

    The bill passed in Kentucky allows local library boards to be appointed by county officials. Sponsors argued that the move makes libraries, which are funded by local property taxes, more accountable to taxpayers.

    But opponents say the legislation will undermine the independence of local librarians, which are supposed to serve the public as a whole.

    "It's giving all of this power to partisan elected officials in counties, and if their constituents start telling them they want to ban books, this would allow them to do it. This is incredibly dangerous," says Kentucky state Rep. Patti Minter, a Democrat who opposed the bill.

    The bill was first passed by the Republican-controlled legislature and vetoed by Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat. But Republicans were able to muster enough additional support to override the veto, and the bill takes effect at the start of 2023.

    Other states have reached further. In Iowa, a bill was proposed allowing city councils to overturn librarians' decisions about what books to buy and where they're displayed.

    In Oklahoma, a bill was signed into law requiring public libraries to install filters on digital databases to prevent children from seeing obscene material. Anyone who deliberately flouts the law would face legal liability.

    Most libraries already have filters in place, and Oklahoma state Rep. Todd Russ, a Republican, says he expects the bill to rarely if ever result in legal action.

    "We're trying to be good partners here, he says. "We're not trying to create all these class action lawsuits. We want to work with them to help create good protection, common sense stuff."

    But other states, including Iowa and Idaho, have proposed similar bills, stripping away the legal immunity that librarians have traditionally enjoyed for the decisions they make.

    Moreover, legal actions against librarians are not unheard of.

    Parents in one Wyoming county recently filed criminal complaints with the local sheriff arguing that library staff members were "pandering obscenity" to minors because they carried books on LGBTQ themes, says Caldwell-Stone. After an investigation, the local prosecutor decided not to press charges.

    LGBTQ books typically generate the most controversy, especially in rural areas, says Caldwell-Stone. The mayor of Ridgeland, Mississippi, cut funding for the local libraries earlier this year after complaining about "sexual content" in some material featured by the library.

    His decision made headlines, and money poured into the library through a crowdfunding campaign that more than made up for the money lost.

    But libraries can't depend on such campaigns long-term, and librarians such as Ruark worry that in the current political climate, the pressure on them is only going to turn up.

    "I think people are concerned about what it's going to do," she says, "but they also feel powerless to make it be any different."

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  • July 13, 2022 9:32 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from MSN

    Two Brummie Muslim men visiting the British Museum have spoken out about their appalling experience after a member of security staff singled them out to ask them 'where the ticker was' to set off a bomb and the 'stick of dynamite'. The questions shocked the pair who levelled an accusation of Islamophobia at the guard. 

    Altaf Kazi, Birmingham based head of partnerships and community engagement the Blood Transfusion Service, and colleague Umar Malik, the organisation's partnerships manager, were on a work 'awayday' to London when the shocking encounter happened. (Thursday 30 June) Their bags were being checked when the security guard asked each of them in turn about 'bombs'.

    Speaking to BirminghamLive, Mr Kazi, 37, said: "There were four colleagues waiting in a line. Two of my colleagues went before me and checked their bags in, with no questions asked. 

    "When it was my time to put my bag on the table, the security man opened my bag and said: ‘where’s the ticker?’ He then said: ‘You shouldn’t be killing all of humanity but saving all of humanity’."

    His colleague Mr Malik then walked up for his security check and was asked: “Where’s the stick of dynamite?” In a post on his LinkedIn profile, Mr Kazi said he was stunned to be quizzed like this.

    "Both of us walked away totally shocked at what had been said. Literally, we laughed and discussed 'did that just happen?' Once we got over that shock, we reported it to the information desk and spoke to management. They were mortified about what we had just experienced and acted on it immediately."

    He added: "Another colleague saw how we responded and then told us how, on a stall yesterday, he was told to go back to where he belonged. Same s**t, different day."

    Altaf Kazi Altaf Kazi and Umar Malik were with colleagues visiting the British Museum after a work 'awayday'

    Mr Kazi, from Handsworth Wood, said: "After the incident happened me and my colleague were discussing whether we should raise this as an issue or not. Then we remembered this quote: "What you're willing to walk past is the standard you accept." 

    "This made us speak to the information desk and raise our voice. Even the lady at the desk was mortified of what she was hearing. Our first reaction was disbelief and then it settled in. We need to make sure we are always reporting these incidents no matter who you are and what you do.

    "We were thinking that if we walk past this incident what does that mean for us, do we accept it? And we shouldn’t."

    Today the British Museum said they apologised for the incident. “On Thursday 30 June, visitors to Museum experienced inappropriate behaviour at our search facility. They immediately reported the incident and a senior security manager swiftly attended and discussed the matter with them, apologising on behalf of the Museum.

    "Whilst they chose not to make a formal complaint, we took the matter seriously as we do not tolerate inappropriate behaviour and took rapid steps to address the situation with the employee concerned. The Museum is an inclusive space for all communities and we would like to reiterate our sincere apologies for their experience.”

    The exchange triggered a shocked response when it was shared on Twitter and LinkedIn. Saidul Haque Saeed, Citizens UK Birmingham community organiser, replied: "The brazen nature of this. Not an ounce of worry about the consequence of saying this to someone." While communications consultant Hasan Patel added: "British Museum, I do hope you take action and look into what took place. Any form of racism is not acceptable." 

    A recent survey into public attitudes towards different ethnic and faith groups by the University of Birmingham found Muslims are the UK’s second ‘least liked’ group, after Gypsy and Irish Travellers, with 25.9% of the British public feeling negative towards Muslims.

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  • June 30, 2022 7:58 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Security Management Magazine

    Facing discrimination at work shakes your confidence, no matter your gender. But the psychological consequences of gender discrimination affect men and women differently.

    According to research by the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, as published in the Academy of Management Journal, gender discrimination affects women’s self-efficacy—one’s confidence in the ability to carry out work tasks—by reinforcing perceived assumptions about women’s lack of competence or suitability for leadership roles.

    The researchers found that low self-efficacy is associated with low motivation, disengagement from work tasks, and other negative outcomes that can impact women’s careers and outcomes within the organization.

    Disengaged workers have 37 percent higher absenteeism, 49 percent more accidents, and make 60 percent more errors, according to a study by Queens School of Business and the Gallup Organization.

    Approximately 42 percent of U.S. women have experienced discrimination at work because of their gender, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center report, and women are more likely than men to believe they have been treated as if they are incompetent, earn less pay than male counterparts for the same work, receive less support from senior leaders, or be passed over for important assignments.

    The Marshall School of Business research found that men also experience perceived gender discrimination at work, although the majority of cases resulted from a belief that organizations are likely to discriminate against men to reduce discrimination against women—passing over a qualified man for a leadership position in favor of a woman candidate instead, for example.

    “Anyone who is not confident in their abilities will never likely achieve their ultimate potential, feel proud of their contributions, or grow their skills to the extent they could,” Deb Boelkes, author of Women on Top: What’s Keeping You From Executive Leadership, told the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). In addition, she added that if gender discrimination goes unresolved, it could create a toxic work environment that could undermine the organization as a whole.

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  • June 30, 2022 7:55 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Whyy

    Visiting a museum can have measurable mental health benefits, according to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Penn’s Positive Psychology Center has been analyzing a wide swath of psychological research associated with arts and culture, showing museums – in particular art museums – are good at reducing anxiety and depression.

    “We’re seeing that going to an art museum is really effective at reducing your stress,” said postdoctoral fellow Katherine Cotter, who recently published her results in The Journal of Positive Psychology. “If we think about the stress hormone cortisol, there’s been a few studies examining if you just go for half an hour to an art museum and measure people’s cortisol levels before they go in, after half an hour it shows the kind of recovery time [normally] equivalent to a few hours.”

    Cotter reviewed about 100 published reports from various disciplines related to arts and psychology to find research consensus that attending art museums – as opposed to experiencing art in the street, in a classroom, or online – can have mental health benefits.

    “When we enter a museum, we’re entering it with an intention. We’re entering this particular space that has unique art, architecture, and has unique things that we’re going to be seeing whether it’s an art museum or another form of museum or cultural institution,” she said. “We engage different mindsets and different cognitive processes. Once we get into the meat and potatoes of the museum visit, we see ourselves more concerned communally, thinking about how things are interrelated in the world more broadly.”

    Positive Psychology is a relatively young field of science, largely spearheaded at Penn by Dr. Martin Seligman, that focuses on accentuating the positive over reducing the negative. Cotter was brought in to work on a particular initiative, Art Museums for Well-Being, but was temporarily thwarted by the widespread museum shutdowns caused by the pandemic.

    Instead, she plowed into the existing research to analyze what was already known. Cotter found that research tended to fall into particular categories: stress and anxiety reduction, alleviating pain, measuring emotional well-being, and – what she found most interesting – loneliness.

    “It wasn’t just, ‘I look at this artwork and it makes me happy,’ it’s thinking about broader things that facilitate other well-being and flourishing outcomes,” she said. “We know that loneliness and social isolation is a precedent to a host of negative health consequences and outcomes.”

    Cotter hopes to use the research analysis to lay a foundation for further work. She said much of the existing research on the benefits of engaging with culture tends to focus on repairing damage to a person’s mental health, i.e. fixing a negative, whereas more work could be done to investigate how arts and culture can cause people to flourish.

    “What are the positive things, the positive side of the ledger, that can come from engagement in arts and culture,” said James Pawelski, the Positive Psychology Center’s director of education. “Things like positive emotional states, a sense of resiliency, a sense of meaning in life, a connection with one’s own strengths, a connection with one’s community.”

    By casting a wide net into the mental health benefits of museums and analyzing the findings, the review of scientific literature could also help museums put the science to practical use.

    “One trajectory that we’re very much interested in is exploring the types of programs that art museums tend to put on, and what trends are emerging for new types of programs that might be implemented,” said Cotter.

    Cotter is particularly interested in the way museums have pivoted hard to digital programming during the pandemic. The flexibility of online activity could allow museums to more easily implement behavioral health elements.

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  • June 30, 2022 7:52 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Next Pittsburg

    Lucy Stewart loves to meander through the Carnegie Museum of Art, stopping to take in something she never noticed before, or just to rest and let her mind wander.

    It’s one reason that Stewart, the museum’s associate curator of education, created Mindful Museum, which gives visitors over age 55 access to early morning programming on Wednesdays. The monthly agenda through December includes art paths with meditation stops, drawing, chair yoga and art history classes — offered on site and virtually.

    “It’s an idea I’ve had for a while, thinking about senior audiences and creating a series of programs that could coalesce as one overall experience to support the social, cognitive and physical needs of our aging public,” says Stewart. “It ended up being the perfect moment to do so, as we have experienced Covid and a lot of what seniors have experienced with isolation.”

    Mindful Museum began in May and at least 100 people have signed up already, about half of whom show up on any given Wednesday. The one-time registration fee is $80 — museum members pay $50 — but scholarships are available for those who can’t afford the cost.

    “We do not allow that to deter someone from coming,” Stewart says. “You can drop in and out. We have a variety of experiences, depending on which Wednesday you select. … People are very hungry for content and being able to connect with each other.”

    The museum opens at 10 a.m. so the early access provides “beautifully quiet galleries where people can sit and look and enjoy, and not feel rushed,” says Stewart. She devised the walks with meditation stops after noticing that many older museum visitors typically stop to rest and ponder. Meditation recordings the museum offered during Covid remain popular.

    “We have to think about what’s there for [older adults],” says Stewart. “In Pittsburgh, we have a higher demographic of older people. In the half-mile radius within walking distance of the museum, there are more than 20,000 people over 55 — that’s Oakland, Squirrel Hill, Shadyside. It’s a large number and it continues to grow.”

    Among the 992,084 adults in Allegheny County, 226,124 are seniors. Nationally, the Census Bureau projects that by 2034, the number of Americans age 65 and older (77.0 million) will outnumber those under age 18 (76.5 million).

    Stewart cites studies that demonstrate the benefits of art therapy for seniors, such as a report produced for the American Alliance of Museums in 2021 that found museums help immensely to reduce loneliness, risk of dementia and premature death among older Americans. And a study published in 2019 in the British Medical Journal by researchers from the University College London found that older adults who visited just once a year had a 14 percent lower risk of early death (31 percent lower for those who took in exhibitions regularly).

    The feedback from Mindful Museum participants is heartwarming, Stewart says.

    “We’ve had incredible, positive feedback — more than I could have imagined,” she says. “People are interested in staying active and they want to meet other people. One gentleman whose wife recently passed always says how much she would have loved it, so he’s coming for himself but also for her. Another gentleman brings his wife who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, because it’s something they can still share.”

    In 2008, the Carnegie Museum of Art started In the Moment, tours for visitors with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Museum staff make certain that people can enjoy art no matter what their limitations may be: ramps make the two floors of exhibitions accessible to those with disabilities; guided tours with rich descriptions and hands-on materials assist the visually impaired; and for those with hearing limitations, there are tours in American Sign Language.

    As the Mindful Museum participants engage in activities, such as group drawing or chair yoga, “people are remembering each other, which is lovely,” Stewart says. “So it’s supporting all of those different needs.”

    Stewart ensured that Mindful Museum had a virtual component for people who can’t visit in person. The museum’s CMOA From Home also has a daily art agenda to encourage art immersion.

    “There are seniors at home who cannot or will not, for whatever reasons, leave their home, so I feel that online and on site are equally important,” Stewart says. “Online will always remain a part of what we offer.”

    Those who have been showing up on Wednesdays are beginning to tell their friends to come with them, she says.

    “I always say, ‘If you have someone who’s on the fence about it, bring them along,” she says. “The museum is a place where I learned to draw, and it’s a place where I’ve spent 27 years [as a curator], where I’ve learned to be me,” she says. “People can embrace that statement and fill it in — hang out, walk, be me, whatever the case may be.

    “Museums are places of conversation and dialogue and coming together. We need to foster that and the idea of connecting with someone.”

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  • June 08, 2022 3:54 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Security Management Magazine

    History has an odd way of repeating itself, for better or for worse. Just as the 1918 influenza pandemic contributed to the Great Depression, the world faces an eerily similar situation with the coronavirus pandemic leading to the Great Resignation, or what some are calling the Big Quit.

    The Great Resignation describes the phenomenon whereby employees of all levels are voluntarily leaving their jobs in response to COVID-19. According to an August 2021 survey by Bankrate, 55 percent of employed Americans are likely to seek new employment in the next 12 months. Whether due to burnout, recruitment, or poor company culture, the Great Resignation has driven leaders all over the world to take a step back and reconsider what it takes to retain employees during such a tumultuous time.

    Of course, navigating the new hybrid workplace model can make retention even more challenging, as employees working both remotely and on-site have different needs and preferences. Staff are also holding employers to higher expectations than ever before. This certainly includes fair compensation, but employees today are asking for much more than bigger paychecks. According to recent survey results from IBM, employees are also prioritizing work–life balance, career advancement opportunities, benefits, and employer ethics and values.

    Given this information, what approach can companies take to keep their staff from joining the millions of Great Resignees? To put it simply: implement a people-first mind-set within your hybrid business model. Companies that follow this strategy have seen positive results in terms of talent retention and employee satisfaction.

    But what does a people-first approach look like, and how can it be implemented? Below are the do’s and don’ts for businesses looking to transform their company culture and retain staff.

    Don't Forget to Lay Down the Foundation at the Top

    In a people-first organization, being a successful executive manager means being acutely aware of employee morale and—especially—their happiness. This is not an easy job, which is why it is essential for businesses to hire self-aware, empathic executives and set expectations for them on day one.

    A people-first mindset is a companywide commitment, beginning with a rock-solid foundation. This must originate from top executives and those in leadership positions. A people-first organization must communicate with all leaders that their performance will be evaluated, in part, on the satisfaction and retention of those they manage. If they are not on board from the start, a people-first approach will never be successful, especially in a hybrid environment.

    Don’t Be the Leader Who Is All Talk and No Action

    It is important to highlight that leaders are not exempt from the above standards. There should be no delegation from the top executive when it comes to fostering a people-first culture. On the contrary, people-first leaders play the biggest role in cultivating and perpetuating a positive, welcoming environment. Leaders need to be walking the talk and actively demonstrating that they are putting in the effort each and every day. This means reaching out—prioritizing people above everything else—and being flexible enough to make changes so others don’t feel lonely or marginalized.

    For example, when the pandemic was spreading in March 2020, my company began to see a trend of selective layoffs and terminations across the region. Our employees were worried about their jobs. As the leader in the region, I immediately addressed those concerns with a series of internal communications that responded to employee concerns in an honest way. I encouraged people to keep working from home since we were still open for business—even though we were 100 percent remote. Then I worked with our finance team to apply for a U.S. government Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan to ensure that we had adequate cash on hand to keep our personnel employed. We have since paid back the loan, and we never had to lay off a single person. Our strategy paid off—employee morale and loyalty were maintained throughout the pandemic.  

    Leaders should approach people with authentic empathy and understanding so they can mitigate a lot of employee stress and anxiety. When leaders commit to the people-first initiative, it will signal to their employees that they are valued as individuals, making them happier workers. And happy workers, as studies have shown, are more productive workers—13 percent more productive, to be exact.

    Do Select Core Values that Foster Team-Building and Openness

    Let’s face it, even daily team-building happy hours are not able to fix deeply rooted issues within an organization. A successful hybrid organization must establish core values that foster a culture of inclusion and openness—and live by them. If a company wishes to successfully move to a hybrid model, it has to select core values that permit such a model to work in the first place. Core values that center on reliability, openness, innovation, and flexibility must be widely visible to employees both on- and off-premises.

    Leaders have to double down with clear actions to put those values front and center in their employees’ everyday working lives. Similarly, organizations must re-visit, prioritize, and showcase their mission statement, and ensure that current and prospective employees align with it.

    When the big-picture goals are clear and prominently featured in day-to-day work life—and these align with an open company culture—employees will have a much easier time committing to an organization’s objectives and purpose whether they are geographically together or not.

    Do Provide Your Employees with a Channel for Open Communication

    Employees should feel empowered and welcome to have open and honest conversations with colleagues of all levels—anywhere from an entry-level person to the CEO—no matter where they are. Nobody should be off-limits to anybody within a successful hybrid organization. Having an open-door policy with a remote/distributed workforce will break down barriers and encourage constructive and healthy conversations to occur, enabling problems to be solved before they become overwhelming.

    These open lines of communication not only ensure that all voices are heard, but also build trust among employees. When employees feel heard and trusted, they are more likely to stick around for the long haul.

    Do Implement Policies that Align with Your Core Values

    If you select core values that center on reliability, openness, innovation, and flexibility, then your policies need to showcase these values. For example, you could arm your personnel with notebook PCs instead of desktop computers and give them a flexible working environment so they have the freedom to work from wherever. You have to make certain that you put procedures and technology in place that ensure your business will be unaffected by your employees moving around.

    For example, when the pandemic hit, we were already prepared and our staff could work remotely. We had installed cloud-based telephony (not just Microsoft Teams, but PureCloud for our call centers). We also had webcam capabilities for all laptops and external webcams for home office setups. TeamViewer for remote support work was already up and running, and we had already upgraded our Global VPN infrastructure which enabled us to have the capacity to handle over 1,000 users simultaneously across all regions. Finally, we were using cloud-based technologies to handle everything from project management to reporting to IT ticketing. The transition was seamless because we were already operating in a quasi-hybrid working environment prior to the pandemic.

    In short, when you establish and foster company policies that enable a successful hybrid environment, you’ll be contributing directly to a people-first culture and aid in maintaining employee happiness and tenure.

    Do Encourage Employees to Prioritize Their Mental Health

    Work–life balance and mental health have been at the forefront of business conversations over the last two years, and for good reason. Research suggeststhat the majority of employees have experienced burnout at some point in their career, and businesses that wish to maintain a happy and motivated workforce must actively promote flexible workspaces and work–life balance. People are more than just the work they produce each week—business leaders must not only understand this, but treat it as a lens through which they view every aspect of the organization.

    Companies that value their staff will put forth resources such as meditation or free counseling, encourage mental health days, and have open conversations to prove their commitment to employees. This is particularly useful in challenging times like a pandemic, and it can help support employees who may not easily adjust to the hybrid model. When employers spend time, money, and resources on creating an environment with a people-first mindset, they not only help to retain their staff, but they can also recruit new talent.

    Retaining staff has never been more important than in the era of the Great Resignation. Although a healthy company culture does not guarantee employee retention, it aids in combating unhappiness and attrition. Company culture isn’t just about happy hours, a snack bar, or games in the office (although those perks may help); it’s also about a deeper, heartfelt philosophy. This is where the people-first mindset in a hybrid workplace comes into play. If executed properly and genuinely, businesses may avoid the Great Resignation and prosper in their own era of the Great Retention.

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  • June 08, 2022 3:52 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Artnet News

    An astonishing scene unfolded at the Louvre on Sunday when a man in a wheelchair wearing a wig hurled a handful of cake at the Mona Lisa.

    According to videos and eyewitness accounts shared on social media, the perpetrator, who has not been publicly identified, stood up from a wheelchair and approached La Gioconda, first attempting to break the glass before finally deciding to smear cake all over it. Damage to the painting was prevented by a sheet of bulletproof glass installed permanently in front of Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic work.

    A video posted online shows the perpetrator speaking to visitors in French as he is escorted away by security.

    “There are people destroying the earth,” said the man who wore a ball cap over a black wig. “Artists come now to tell you to think of the earth, all artists think of the earth, that’s why I did this.”

    The attack occurred while the gallery was brimming with tourists late Sunday afternoon. One social media user who was there described what he observed: “… [A] man dressed as an old lady jumps out of a wheelchair and attempted to the smash the bullet proof glass of the Mona Lisa,” he tweeted.

    Artnet News wrote to the Louvre to confirm whether the man was detained and whether the work was damaged, but did not hear back by publishing time.

    This is not the first time the Mona Lisa has been attacked. In 1956, a man threw sulfuric acid at the painting, damaging it. At a Tokyo exhibition in 1974, a woman in a wheelchair unsuccessfully attempted to spray red paint on it, in protest over the work’s lack of accessibility to people needing ramps. In the summer of 2009, a Russian man threw a cup of tea at it.

    Since 1960, the Mona Lisa has been protected by a sheet of bullet proof glass, which now includes a sealed enclosure that consists of a 1.52-inch-thick glass able to withstand permanent temperatures of 43 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 percent humidity.

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  • June 08, 2022 3:49 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Security Management Magazine

    Organizations are facing unprecedented challenges when it comes to globalization, risk management, and market volatility. This makes it of paramount importance that businesses and government entities pursue every competitive advantage, especially where public safety, law enforcement, and security are concerned.

    The public and private sectors must remain constantly agile, able, and willing to recalibrate and realign mission goals and objectives to address ever-changing vulnerabilities and risks, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    One of the methods an organization can bolster its competitive advantage is through the application of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) principles designed to enhance leadership’s strategic thinking around complex problem solving. Many successful organizations recently made workforce DE&I initiatives a critical priority. Such campaigns strengthen teamwork, collaboration, and innovation throughout a workforce. The overall added value of continued operational growth and development from these initiatives has seeped into upper echelons as executive-level management positions have even been established to advance DE&I concepts within the workplace.

    Embracing DE&I principles not only supports the workforce and strengthens ethical and strategic leadership—it is also a catalyst for constructive organizational change in the 21st century.

    DE&I in a Nutshell

    The concept of diversity focuses on characteristics, similarities, and differences considerate of an individual’s national origin, culture, heritage, language, race, color, abilities, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, veteran status, and family structures. It also considers an individual’s upbringing, unique life experiences, and way of thinking.

    The concept of equity focuses on fundamental fairness and respect for all individuals, where the application of processes and programs are fair and impartial to provide the opportunity to achieve equal possible outcomes for all. It also ensures legal obligations are upheld related to civil rights laws, including reasonable accommodations and equal employment opportunities.

    The concept of inclusion seeks to establish an organizational culture, which fosters a sense of belonging and collaboration within the workplace where thoughts and perspectives can be shared in a safe environment. It also mitigates groupthink, or the practice of making decisions in a group setting that discourages creativity and diversity.

    There are various tangible benefits for advancing DE&I within organizations. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) identified three key examples in its Diversity and Inclusion FAQ as to how DE&I advances social responsibility within communities, cultivates innovation, and increases return on investment for organizations:

    Serving our communities and being socially responsible. “Diversity and inclusion increase an agency’s capacity to serve and protect people who have different experiences or backgrounds and enhance its ability to be receptive to different traditions and ideas. Law enforcement officers present a good example of the critical need to have civil servants who look like the people and communities they serve.”

    Fostering innovation. “Increased creativity is another byproduct of capitalizing on differences. Research has shown that effective diversity management coupled with inclusive work environments improves organizational performance and innovation. Employees from varied backgrounds bring different perspectives, ideas, and solutions to the workplace that result in new products and services, challenge to the status quo, and new collaboration.”

    Generating a return on investment. “Diversity and inclusion initiatives improve the quality of an agency’s workforce and are the catalyst for a better return on investment in human capital. One of the biggest budget items in any agency is the amount it spends on human resources in the form of salaries, benefits, training, development, and recruitment. In order to get a healthy return on investment in human capital and maximize competitive advantage, an agency must engage in recruitment and retention efforts that focus on acquiring the best and the brightest talent.”

    While the OPM is a U.S. federal government entity, the benefits it identified resonate worldwide. As globalization continues to be a driving force impacting diplomatic, information, military, and economic elements of national power, organizations must successfully leverage and apply DE&I-related principles, concepts, and themes within their business strategies and operational frameworks. This is especially important where worldviews have an impact on negotiating agreements, managing expectations, understanding cultural norms, and forecasting business decisions in the open international market. Such practices should not only empower innovation, but they should help shepherd novel organizational changes that ensure more agile business enterprises are ready to address new challenges in a global environment.

    Leveraging DE&I has proven to also increase strategic leadership capabilities by allowing decision makers to comprehensively assess issues from various frames of reference. This facilitates more informed evidence-based decisions, which consider second- and third-order effects of the available options. Many executive-level training programs, such as U.S. military war colleges, focus on strategic studies where students examine and assess the interrelationships between politics, economics, diplomacy, and the military from a global perspective. Such an analysis helps to ensure that senior-level decision-making processes apply a multifaceted analytical approach and that pivotal decisions are not made in a vacuum.

    The application of DE&I can also play a key role in talent management initiatives. This not only focuses on recruitment and retention efforts, but also plays a role through succession planning to prepare the next generation of leaders within the organization.

    Incorporating DE&I within a Business Strategy

    Many government and business entities have already established strategies incorporating a DE&I-focused framework. Some organizations have reimagined their vision and mission statements to incorporate DE&I concepts. Other entities have included these concepts in their annual and five-year strategic plan documents, which serve as roadmaps for how an organization will strive to meet its strategic mission goals.

    Some forward-leaning organizations crafted and implemented leadership tenets and associated foundational talking points as part of their professional development programs. These are intended to enhance employee collaboration and dialogue, cultivating critical and strategic thinking throughout the workforce. Such deliverables have been calibrated to address and further explore DE&I principles, themes, and concepts in support of building new and strengthening existing coalitions. (See “An Investment in Employees,” Security Management,October 2018.)

    Substantial DE&I inroads are also being made at the interagency level, demonstrating a commitment toward advancing DE&I across U.S. government entities. In the second quarter of 2021, the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency established a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group. It collaborates with more than 25 Offices of Inspectors General (OIG) to advance the Inspector General community’s commitment to promoting positive office cultures and oversight work while supporting DE&I principles. Some initiatives of focus include the enhancement of the “lifecycle” experience of OIG employees from an enterprise talent management perspective and how to bolster oversight work by weaving DE&I principles into its audits, investigations, and evaluations in a manner that ultimately benefits everyone in the United States.

    Leveraging DE&I in Training and Development

    With organizations implementing DE&I within the workplace, significant advancements have been made by government and business entities seeking tailored training opportunities. Several organizations and companies—such as OPM’s Center for Leadership Development and consultant and training firm FranklinCovey—have been integrating DE&I concepts into their programming to focus on increasing self-awareness and identifying and internally processing unconscious and implicit bias and microaggressions. Curricula can also focus on the positive impacts DE&I can bring to an organization, and how constructive and diplomatic dissent can usher in novel changes for the betterment of the organization and its stakeholders.

    Professional associations have also played an integral role in broadcasting the need to embrace DE&I principles within organizations. ASIS International established its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Community on the ASIS Connects platform, allowing security management practitioners to share their thoughts and ideas on DE&I-related discussion boards and advance collaborative professional development.

    Affinity groups often host DE&I-focused regional and national seminars, workshops, and conferences. For instance, in May 2022, the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) is hosting its annual National Leadership Training Program (NLTP). May also marks Asian American, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which this year is themed Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration.

    This year’s NLTP focuses on OPM’s Executive Core Qualifications, which provide a professional development framework for employees to build upon their leadership and managerial skill sets that will ultimately increase organizational competitive advantage.

    Several academic institutions, such as Southern New Hampshire University, have also conducted noteworthy curricula reviews to ascertain whether undergraduate and graduate course content should be reimagined using a DE&I-focused perspective as it relates to artifacts and deliverables employed, and whether additional progress can be made to further diversify authors of such content.

    For example, several educational institutions in the California State University System—including California State University, East Bay—promote the benefits of undergraduate and graduate internships. These opportunities provide the university’s students with significant professional experience, allowing them to develop cross-cultural skills while working in diverse settings.

    Youth organizations have also been crucial in promoting DE&I to develop young people to become better global citizens. In support of such efforts, the Boy Scouts of America (Scouts BSA) announced in November 2021 the creation of the Citizenship in Society Merit Badge, enabling scouts to learn about DE&I and ethical leadership and understand why such tenets are not only important in scouting, but necessary in a global society.

    Securing the Advantage

    For organizations to successfully navigate challenges in a dynamic operational environment against the backdrop of increased globalization, it is essential their leadership leverage critical and strategic thinking, which is grounded upon DE&I concepts, principles, and themes.

    The implementation of such a framework throughout the workplace will not only manifest increased agility and resilience to respond to rapidly changing priorities, but it will also cultivate innovation and bolster talent management initiatives within the organization. To truly pioneer and lead change, successful organizations must strive to be fully invested in including DE&I in business operations. Otherwise, such a pivot in branding can be perceived as a hollow sound bite that does not manifest any value added to the organization, its employees, and stakeholders.

    Employee salary, benefits, and training are essentially some of the largest line items for many organizational budgets. As such, it is imperative to enhance the lifecycle experience of employees by promoting DE&I principles within the workplace to assist in increasing employee satisfaction, self-worth, and personal involvement in the organization. If organizations can be successful in the endeavor of leveraging DE&I principles within the ethos of the workplace, not only will such application serve as the ultimate mutual return on investment for organizations and employees alike, but it will truly optimize and advance organizational competitive advantage in the 21st century’s volatile and uncertain environment.

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