Art museums across the country are starting to respond to the recession. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art announced this week it's trimming its operating budget by 10 percent, or 900 thousand dollars, in the upcoming fiscal year; half is expected to come from staff reductions. Museum officials issued a few clarifications on a story published Thursday in The Kansas City Star. KCUR's Laura Spencer reports.
Kansas City, MO – Officials at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art say there are currently 252 full time and part-time employees, not 175. And although 20 - 25 positions were mentioned in the article for staff reductions, officials say they cannot list an exact number at this time. Some staff members have been offered voluntary separation packages, but they have more than six weeks to decide, rather than by the end of the day. Officials also say there will also be no further cutbacks in hours beyond closing the museum to the public on Tuesdays and reserving it for school tours. Laura Spencer, KCUR News.
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This is a statement that Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Director/CEO Marc Wilson sent to staffers Wednesday, January 14, 2009:
I am encouraged and positive about the Museum's future, but like most corporations, not-for-profits and museums, we must respond to a severe economic downtown. The duration of this recession is uncertain, which means we must make decisions now.
To summarize the overall picture, the museum's financial situation has been affected in these ways:
o The value of our endowment fund has been diminished due to market conditions.
o The nation's general economic decline has dampened charitable giving and corporate sponsorships.
o Museum attendance was less than projected last year, which affects operating revenue.
The challenges require us to trim our operating budget by 10% for the upcoming fiscal year. About half that amount would be accomplished through staff reductions. However, downsizing involves more than eliminating positions. Restructuring is also essential. Streamlined. Focused. Nimble. These are the qualities that will be critical to meeting the future.
To give you a national perspective, I am attaching a link to an important article that was released last week by The Art Newspaper, detailing the many ways in which art museums across the country are responding to the recession.
Thank you for your patience as we weather this situation.
Marc F. Wilson
Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell Director/CEO