Volume 16, Number 3, Sept 1994, p.5

AIC Advisor Council Meeting Report

by Glenn Wharton

The annual American Institute for Conservation Advisory Council Meeting took place this year in Nashville on June 12, prior to the annual meeting. Over the last few years, these meetings have become a regular event. They serve as a vehicle for the AIC to communicate to other professional groups, and provide regional conservation organizations and allied professional groups (NIC, AASLH, AAM...) the opportunity to address their concerns to the AIC Board.

Three items on the agenda particularly caught my attention. I was pleased to hear that the AIC has formed a task force on Cultural Diversity. Lambertus Van Zelst, Chair of the task force, reported that 95.1% of the AIC members who responded to the membership questionnaire are Caucasian. This does not reflect the makeup of our society at large, nor does it anticipate the expected future demographic changes in the country. Something is very wrong. The mandate of the task force is to design efforts to increase minority participation in our field and to consider how to make our work more relevant to minority concerns. The task force is even questioning the "A" in AIC. Does the professional organization only represent the United States? Does it include all of North America? Central America? Apparently this was not defined in the bylaws of the organization.

The Cultural Diversity task force has realized that we need to introduce inner city kids and minorities to Conservation at a very early age, They are looking at successful outreach programs in other fields, and will recommend to the Board a multi-front attack. For instance, teaching packets may be designed with videos and reading materials to target different age groups, K-12. I am sure that Bert would appreciate hearing from WAAC members about the design of other successful projects.

Another item of note which is gaining momentum within the AIC is the Public Outreach program, currently headed by Pam Hatchfield. The AIC has recently published a series of brochures on various aspects of our field. These brochures are designed to familiarize the public with our work, training opportunities, and basic methods of collections care. They are available through the AIC office.

Pam is also promoting the publication of conservation articles in other professional journals, public and professional lectures, and newspaper articles. Her main project this year will be the development of a traveling exhibit on conservation designed for small museums. If you know any press reporters interested in conservation or if you have an interest in public outreach, contact Pam.

A third important topic which was discussed was the decrease in conservation grant applications to federal agencies (IMS, NEA, NEH). An emergency call to all conservators has gone out to encourage institutions to apply for these funds. If the funds are not spent, they will be reallocated to other federal programs. If you need more information, either contact the agencies directly or call the AIC office (202/452-9545, for a one-page information sheet which the staff has prepared.

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