I guess we all knew this had to happen some time.
I just got a press release from the High Museum of Art announcing budget cuts, which included across-the-board pay cuts and a whopping 7 percent reduction in staff.
Apparently, these cuts will save $1.4 million, which will reduce the operating budget to $23.7 million.
Gosh, I think our Columbus Museum operates on $1.4 million or less a year!
But the High is a huge place and instead of raising admission fees, this was the thing to do.
The High's director, Michael Shapiro, will take a 7 percent pay cut and other department heads will take a 6 percent pay cut. Everyone else will take a 5 percent pay cut/ But it won't be forever. It's until May 31. On the other hand, all employees have to take 2.6 weeks of unpaid leave. Yikes!
Staff reductions are from hiring freezes, elimination of five full-time employees and three temps and redistribution of responsibilities.
Here's what Shapiro had to say: “As with many non-profit institutions both in Atlanta and across the country, the High Museum of Art has been affected by the economic downturn, experiencing shortfalls in income we receive through donations and membership as well as losses to our endowment. These are challenging times and few decisions are harder than one that involves staff reductions. However, the High needs to take these prudent steps in order to balance its budget and ensure that we can continue our role as the leading art museum serving the Southeast.
“We are gratified by the tremendous response and record-breaking attendance for our ‘First Emperor’ exhibition; however, admission is a small piece of the museum’s overall budget. For the past 15 years, the High has operated in the black and we will continue to operate without a deficit to ensure the institution’s long term health and stability. We are continuing to monitor our budgets and the economy and in looking towards fiscal year 2010, we are conscious that potential declines in corporate sponsorship, individual giving, membership, and losses to our endowment may require us to make additional reductions.”
These cuts follow a series of previous budget reductions which have been implemented throughout the past year. Working across departments, the High has taken a number of measures to trim expenses, including examining and adjusting exhibition schedules, instituting a hiring freeze and a ban on non-essential travel, reducing energy use and strategically trimming programming without impacting the core visitor experience.
Wow! I hope the Columbus Museum doesn't have to go through anything like this. They're operating, like everyone else, with a staff that has no fat to trim.
I wonder who's next? The Alliance?