Nelson-Atkins, facing steep budget cuts, to reduce 15% of staff

Posted at 11:58 AM, Oct 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-21 12:58:18-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art will eliminate 15% of its staff, calling the decision the direct result of significant financial impacts suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The museum on Wednesday said that it took measures this week to cut 36 staff positions, just over a month since it reopened following a six-month closure.

Because of the lengthy closure and lowered attendance since reopening on Sept. 12, the Nelson-Atkins needs to reduce its overall budget by 25% to around $26 million, the museum said in the statement, leading to the decision to cut staff positions.

“Any decision to reduce the size of the staff must be the last resort,” Richard C. Green, chair of the Nelson-Atkins Board of Trustees, said in a news release. “…Unfortunately, we are not immune to the same forces that businesses and other nonprofit organizations have faced during this difficult year. These steps are being taken to ensure the museum’s long-term sustainability.”

The museum said it lost revenue during the closure from rentals, fundraisers, ticketing and parking fees, and merchandise sales. Since reopening in September, the museum has had to drastically lower attendance, meaning it still is generating less income than before the pandemic.

The museum also has canceled all traveling exhibitions, in-person tours, classes, public programs and festivals.

The museum said private donors “have continued to be generous,” and it secured a Payroll Protection Program loan, which has helped to cover some lost revenue, though not enough.