The High Museum of Art
announced a series of budget cuts today, including across the board pay cuts and a 7% reduction of its staff. These reductions, combined with previous cost-cutting measures, will result in $1.4 million dollars in savings and will reduce the operating budget for fiscal year 2009 to $23.7M. These measures will enable the museum to continue to provide high quality and meaningful art and educational experiences to the community.
The High has instituted a series of pay cuts across the board, starting with the Director’s office. Michael Shapiro will take a 7% pay cut and other Director-level employees will take a 6% pay cut. All other employees will take a 5% pay cut. These cuts will extend through May 31, 2009. Beginning June 1 and extending through fiscal year 2010, salaries will be reinstated but employees will be required to take 2.6 weeks of unpaid leave. The staff reductions have been achieved through hiring freezes, redistribution of staff responsibilities and the elimination of five full-time positions and three temporary positions.
“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,” said Michael E. Shapiro, the High’s Nancy and Holcombe T. Green Jr. Director. “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 fifteen 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,” Shapiro continued. “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 nonessential travel, reducing energy use, and strategically trimming programming without impacting the core visitor experience.