Art Institute of Chicago reenacts Glengarry Glen Ross

“Art Institute of Chicago Ends a Docent Program, and Sets Off a Backlash” (NYT):

Museum officials decided that one area in need of an overhaul was its 60-year-old program of volunteer educators, known as docents, who greet school groups and lead tours.

So last month the board overseeing the program sent a letter to the museum’s 82 active docents — most of whom were white older women — informing the volunteers that their program was being ended. The letter said that the museum would phase in a new model relying on paid educators and volunteers “in a way that allows community members of all income levels to participate, responds to issues of class and income equity, and does not require financial flexibility to participate.”

The new plan calls for hiring paid educators — Ms. Stein invited the volunteers to apply for those positions — and then developing a new program over the next few years. In 2023, she wrote, “unpaid volunteer educators will be reintroduced via a redesigned model” that includes updated protocols for “recruitment, application, training, and assessment.” She offered the departing docents museum memberships.

A number of museums have been trying to address how to get more people of color into the hiring pipeline, in part by removing financial barriers. Organizations like the Minnesota Alliance for Volunteer Advancement encourage nonprofit and government organizations “to engage volunteers who reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the communities they serve.” And there have been widespread calls for salary reforms, since systems that rely on unpaid volunteers and interns tend to favor those who can afford to work for little to nothing.

And a 2020 article in Slate headlined “Museums Have a Docent Problem” described what it called “the struggle to train a mostly white, unpaid tour guide corps to talk about race.”

(i.e., Karen is fired)

It might sound bizarre for an institutional that is constantly asking for donations to fire a huge volunteer staff, thus giving the appearance of having money to burn. On the other hand, David Mamet is from Chicago, so it makes sense that a Chicago institution would re-enact the famous Alec Baldwin scene from Glengarry Glen Ross in which the real estate salesmen are required to reapply for their jobs. “Put. That. Coffee. Down. Coffee’s for closers. … The good news is you’re fired. The bad news is all of you have just one week to regain your jobs. … First prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired.” (If the parallels are not obvious, see highlighted sections above where docents can re-apply and also where museum memberships (“steak knives”) are offered.)

Here’s the clip, in case you’re wondering about how to resolve any HR issues within our own enterprise …

Remember: “A loser is a loser.”

(I wrote the above post just before Alec Baldwin shot and killed Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust.)

13 thoughts on “Art Institute of Chicago reenacts Glengarry Glen Ross

  1. “In 2023, she wrote, ‘unpaid volunteer educators will be reintroduced via a redesigned model’ that includes updated protocols for ‘recruitment, application, training, and assessment.'”

    In other words, a reeducation program. Humiliate yourself, profess that you are a white sinner, ask for forgiveness and show remorse.

    When will this program start in the NBA, where White and Asian people seem to be oppressed by the Black majority? Fire all Black people and ask them to reapply with “updated protocols for recruitment, application, training, and assessment”.

  2. I am so glad that I never seriously considered exchanging my UK citizenship for American. A year (1973-74) provided enough disillusionment. The situation has only deteriorated enormously since then.

  3. I’ve read somewhere that blacks have the lowest rate of volunteerism (and also organ donation); so maybe that’s one factor for the low number of black volunteer docents.

  4. > It might sound bizarre for an institutional that is constantly asking for donations to fire a huge volunteer staff, thus giving the appearance of having money to burn.

    As Anonymous points out, in a Revolution the most important thing isn’t the cost. No matter what it costs, you have tear everything to the ground. No matter how “good” it was, it was in service of an unjust regime, and it has to be torn out at the roots and replaced. There are no half-measures in a Revolution, and that’s doublplustrue for old ladies who represent everything that has to be destroyed.

  5. My favorite part about this is our own host Phil never leaves home without his brass balls!

  6. From “ The 122 former docents had to go through rigorous, 18-month training sessions, 5 years of research, and biweekly further trainings for their unpaid service. They will be replaced, Stein said, by a “limited number of paid educators” the museum will choose based on “an income equity-focused lens.”

    Not just unpaid volunteers, but they also also had to jump through all these hoops. I’m astonished they couldn’t already find people to do this for free based on “an income equity-focused lens” /sarc

    • @Mitch Berkson: I’m not laughing at you, but that’s laughable. Older, retired white ladies who give free museum tours have never been known to be the most ornery social activists and particularly not in Chicago, where many of them are liberals and leftists themselves, who hail from places like Evanston and some of the surrounding suburbs. They are already suffused with white guilt and accustomed to virtue signaling. They are an easy target, and after a few meek letters will give up, roll over and accept the re-education camp.

      In fact, that is precisely why the Art Institute is doing this. They’re low-hanging fruit. They know these folks don’t need much of a push to roll them over. They don’t want their names in the newspaper. They don’t want any protests in front of their houses. They don’t do confrontation, and they won’t stand up for themselves. The “backlash” the NYT refers to is meek to nonexistent.

      All you have to do to push semi-wealthy, largely idle white liberals around in Chicago and run the floor with them is show a little muscle, wait until catch their breath a little, and then lay out the terms for whatever you want. I lived there for almost a decade.

      Also, if push comes to shove, Pritzker will get on board with the Art Institute’s plans and then it’ll be straight from the top of the power structure in Illinois, and they won’t contradict him. For the time being they’ll work the Soft Power and Persuasion network but if push comes to shove, these old ladies ain’t gonna push back, and the revolutionaries know that. They’ll accept their diminished, re-educated Enhanced Guilt roles.

    • @Mitch Berkson: Also, there isn’t anyone who *talks* about the business and goings-on at the Art Institute of Chicago who doesn’t have a (D) after their name when it comes time to vote, from the academics who write about it to the newspaper people who write articles and op-eds, to the professors in the Universities who have intimate contact with experts there because they work on things like the provenance of artwork and art history. It’s an ALL LIBERAL/LEFTIST ZONE. There is absolutely *nobody* that I can think of in a position of authority and influence who will stand up and say: “Absolutely not. This is BULLSHIT!” to whatever plans for Social Justice their party leaders decide are necessary. None of them want to be called a Republican or a Trump Supporter or a Racist. They would get death threats!

    • Alex, I am not Mitch but I would think that a tour guide would be able to bring his group to a museum and show the artifacts. If the ladies got free membership can not they just gather people and tell them stories? Would they be escorted out by police? On what basis?

    • @Anonymous: It would be an interesting experiment – assuming someone could find any of the aformentioned ladies willing to take the heat and place themselves in opposition (however indirectly) to the Art Institute’s plans. I can imagine that if any of them try it, the Institute could simply change the admission rules to say: “All tours of the museum, whether arranged in advance or on an ad-hoc basis, must be conducted in cooperation with the Institute’s staff and tour protocol. All groups wishing to conduct their own tours must fill out the following form and submit it to the Art Institute of Chicago at least one week in advance of their tour…” and so on and so forth. Anybody who doesn’t follow the rules loses their membership, cannot gain entrance to the facility, and can be banned from visiting the Art Institute ever again.

      They don’t have to let anyone in the building they don’t want, and insurrectionists won’t be tolerated.

  7. I like to tell real staff about museum exponats to those touring with me and sometimes others stop by to listen. I may get an evil eye from museum personnel but that’s it.

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