Hygienic Art hosts “Picture My World Retrospective,” a show highlighting work from their long-running and popular afterschool program for low income Online sellers must adjust to the new way consumers are shopping and prioritize building relationships to ensure success for the eventual rebound.
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- Globalization reduces the autonomy of the nation state. Capital is increasingly mobile and the ability of the state to regulate economic activity is reduced.
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A call centre worker confined to a small workstation/booth.
All employees, private industries, by branches
Youth employment rate in the US, i.e. the ratio of employed persons (15–24Y) in an economy to total labor force (15–24Y).
Author: Authority control
Hygienic Art hosts a show highlighting work from their popular middle-school program
Passersby on the slowly re-opening Bank Street in downtown New London might start when they see a series of compelling blown-up photographs in the front and side windows of the Hygienic Art Gallery. Accompanying each image is a thematic poem or text.
Are these left over from a previous show? Is the gallery open again and no one told us? Is there an art gremlin inside the building hanging pieces with mischievous glee?
If it all sounds tantalizing, it’s by design.
The photos and written-word compositions are the physical manifestations of the “Picture My World Retrospective,” a mostly virtual exhibition featuring the images and writings of low-income middle school students from New London’s Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School, New London High School and ISAAC School who have participated in Hygienic Art’s “Do the Write Thing” afterschool program over the years. It’s featured on the Hygienic’s home and Facebook pages through June.
Normally, late spring is the time when the Hygienic presents its annual “Do the Write Thing”/”Picture My World” student exhibit based on work from those programs. It all started in 2005 as an afterschool writing group and expanded in 2012 to include photography and intertwining themes and projects between the two disciplines.
But safety concerns over COVID-19 forced a different concept this year. Rather than simply cancel the show, the idea of a comprehensive look backward through a virtual retrospective evolved. In addition to the images and written word pieces in the gallery’s windows, rotating samples of work from across the program’s existence are being presented online at hygienic.org.
Years of work
“I was looking back at all the work over the years, and it’s all very revealing and very powerful,” says A. Vincent Scarano, the president of Hygienic Art and the photographer who introduced the “Picture My World” component to the existing “Do the Write Thing” program. “There were so many photos that reflected on what was happening over the years, and so many reflect the same themes of isolation and what’s going on with coronavirus and the state of social action. There’s a lot of moving, creative work, and it makes sense to present it all as a relevant retrospective. It all seemed to fit into Nancy’s original idea.”
Scarano is referring to Nancy Rodgers, a longtime teacher at the ISAAC School in New London, who initiated the “Do the Write Thing” program. The thing is, Rodgers came up with the idea before she was a teacher.
“Creative writing helped me work through a lot of my issues when I was younger, and I thought maybe this can do something for other kids,” Rodgers says. Basing her idea on a successful young persons’ writing project for inner city students in San Francisco’s Mission District, co-founded by author Dave Eggers and educator Nínive Calegar, Rodgers approached the New London School District. “I said, ‘I want to start a creative writing program for kids, and we did. I wanted it to be part creative writing and part journalism, and we went for it. We had a great group of kids, and it just sort of took off.”
Rodgers, who then started her own career as a teacher, found an eager and willing partner for the program in the Hygienic as well as fellow teacher and volunteer Paula Washburn, and the twice-a-week afterschool sessions became extremely popular.
“It’s been such an amazing ride just to see how kids are able to tell their stories,” Rodgers says. “They’re all different and they have different ways to process and tell their stories … And when Vinnie came in with the photography element, it all became just magical.”
Perception is all
Students were taught photography with furnished cameras — technical aspects as well as aesthetic components concerning light, framing a shot, and so on. The workshops operated in thematic variables. Some days students might write about another’s photo images or perhaps their own; there are a lot of possibilities by design.
“Perception is incredibly important,” Rodgers says. “We all look at the world with different perceptions, and you bring all your past experiences to this present moment. That’s why and how we all react. We all react differently to a picture or a poem, and when you then write about someone else’s photo or work, you begin to understand their perceptions.”
Scarano and Rodgers say they hear from alums of the all the time. “The kids always come back to the gallery,” Scarano says, “and often it’s in a mentoring capacity.”
Jaylynn Claudio, majoring in illustration at the University of New Haven, was a participant in the programs as a student at ISAAC in 2013-14. She says she was inspired to attend by her two best friends, who thought she should explore her creative side.
“It absolutely impacted how I grew up,” Claudio says. “Mrs. Rodgers — I love her and she was incredibly influential. The whole experience was. My friends and I had so many experiences taking pictures and writing and learning about the world. So many conversations … It was just an incredibly great experience.”
Claudio later interned at the Hygienic and, in addition to her goal of doing comic books based on everyday life, she would love to work with students fostering their creativity. “‘Do the Write Thing’ influenced that completely. When a kid sees something I’ve illustrated, maybe, and says, ‘How did you do that?,’ I want to help.”
“This is such a positive program. We want to lift up these kids and give them a platform and arm them with words and images,” says Bess Gaby, who became director of the Hygienic in February. “There’s absolutely nothing in the world like standing in front of your peers and friends and family — in an art gallery or onstage at school or just in public — and have those people listening to you.”
Gaby was extremely excited to take over the Hygienic in February knowing the student exhibition would be one of her first projects. Then the virus hit.
“It was obviously not great timing,” Gaby says. “To be honest, we really needed this exhibit because the program has been struggling, and we wanted to celebrate the exhibit as a call to action. We need more volunteers connected with the youth and the schools, and I want to prioritize a year-round campaign to keep these programs and the awareness at the forefront.”
No right or wrong
As consistent with the artistic spirit, the volunteers who participate in “Do the Write Thing”/”Picture My World” — and there have been many, Scarano, Gaby and Rodgers are quick to point out — would suggest there will always be a way to push their work with children forward.
“We’ll charge ahead positively,” Scarano says. “We’ll start recruiting for the fall and offer after school programming. Schools will open at some point and we’ll be here. This is a safe space for the kids. But we can only carry on if it’s relevant to the community.”
“This is important,” Rodgers says. “When these kids come to us, so many are vulnerable and shy and lack confidence. And suddenly, they’re standing behind a podium at the Hygienic, reading a poem. They’re incredibly vulnerable in that moment, but it’s transcendent. They’re empowered by their own story and they want to share it.
“You know what’s funny? I was going to do this for one year, and look what’s happened. It’s 16 years later, and the kids still want to come to their happy place. That’s what they call it when we get together. And every year, they start off by asking, ‘What’s wrong with my writing?’ And I tell them, ‘Here’s the rule. There’s NO right or wrong with your writing. It’s YOU.”
What: “Picture My World Retrospective” virtual art exhibit highlighting work from across the existence of Hygienic Art’s “Do the Write Thing” and “Picture My World” afterschool arts programs
When: Through June 30
Where: Hygienic.org and Hygienic Art Facebook page
For more information: Hygienic.org.
Author: By Rick Koster
Day staff writer
Council Post: Shopping Is Changing: Here’s How To Build Brand Loyalty Online
Executive Managing Director, Americas at Criteo, the advertising platform for the open Internet.
Prior to COVID-19, marketers were already testing new ways to connect with consumers who, more than ever, have a wide variety of products to choose from. Today, with social distancing measures in place at a global scale, consumers have no choice but to shop online, resulting in an exponentially competitive e-commerce landscape.
In today’s environment, consumers are shopping with a purpose and know exactly the type of merchandise they’re searching for and in need of. In the past, they would have weighed their options carefully before making a purchasing decision, but now they are shopping out of necessity and more than ever lack a sense of brand loyalty.
This means that brands need to work harder to amplify their voice and stand out among competitors, while also remaining sensitive to the current state of the world. Online sellers must adjust to the new way consumers are shopping and prioritize building relationships to ensure success for the eventual rebound.
So how can brands capture consumers’ attention and make a connection during these trying times? These four strategies can help.
Ensure messaging is relevant.
It’s more important than ever to be conscious of the messaging that your brand is displaying across its website and advertising and adapt it to today’s reality. To ensure that you’re providing your consumers with added value, display products that are relevant for a social-distancing lifestyle. Whether it’s essential items such as hand sanitizer or arts and crafts for children, showing the consumer the exact product they need at the right time will ensure a positive experience.
If there is less demand for the product or services your company provides, focus on upper-funnel marketing initiatives. Gaining awareness and building relationships instead of pushing sales will go much further for when the consumer is ready to shop again.
Prioritize the mobile experience.
With quarantine and social distancing in place, consumers are not only relying on apps for entertainment, but also for other key activities such as shopping for essentials, staying connected with friends and family, and reading the news. In fact, more than ever, they are relying on their phone to provide speed, convenience and relevance.
Now is the time to drive more investment toward creating a positive mobile experience to maximize app traffic. Brands should be thinking long term and building those relationships with consumers by showing relevant products, launching app loyalty programs and providing incentives to make app purchases. Consumers might not keep all the apps they have downloaded during COVID-19, but by creating a connection now, brands can ensure that their app will be around to stay in the future.
Connect with the customer.
Conversational commerce has been growing in popularity among retailers, and it’s easy to see why.
Modern consumers are accustomed to getting almost everything with the click of a button. However, for consumers who typically shop in-store and now have no choice but to turn to online shopping, customer service will be an important part of their shopping experience. Since these consumers are losing that one-to-one connection they get when visiting a brick-and-mortar store, brands must communicate with them in real time, or they risk losing out to competitors that are investing in conversational commerce solutions.
Chatbots and messaging are a way to preserve that engagement, especially during this time of crisis. This consumer who is new to online shopping might stick around for the long run with retailers who provide a positive customer service experience during times of need.
Explore payment options and discounted shipping costs.
With many consumers feeling the financial strain during this time, a retailer that can offer additional payment options will stand out among the crowd. Affording your customer the ability to pay via financing options and post-purchase payments will be extremely useful for reducing shopping cart abandonment.
As you consider your payment choices, be sure to take a close look at your shipping options as well. Fast and discounted or free shipping will be a major incentive for consumers who are shopping for essential products on a minimal budget. For those who are struggling with the supply chain and distribution, be honest and open with your customers. Transparency will be the key to building a strong relationship with your buyer.
In this time of uncertainty, today’s consumer is adopting new behaviors and following a path to purchase that e-commerce has not experienced before. Many of these new behaviors may be here to stay long after the pandemic has ended. By adapting your current strategies to fit the lifestyle of today’s social distancing consumer, you can build a lasting relationship that ensures these consumers will return in the future.
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Author: Jessica Breslav