BOSTON, MA.- The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
today announced a series of cost-saving measures in response to the effects of the global financial crisis. None of the measures will affect the visitor experience, including no change to admission prices, programs, or hours of operation.
Anne Hawley, the Norma Jean Calderwood Director, issued the following statement:
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is not immune to the profound effects of the worldwide financial crisis. From July 2008 to February 2009, the museum endowment declined approximately 29% and while we have continued to raise significant funds from our generous donors, income from the endowment accounts for 40% of our operating revenue.
In response to this challenge, and to manage prudently during this difficult period, the museum has reduced its operating budget for FY09 by 7% and we further reduced our FY10 operating budget by an additional 11% to $10.4 million.
To accomplish these changes, the museum has undertaken a strategic review of all operating expenses with reductions made across the board including printing, mailing, staff travel, and other general expenses. In addition, we have implemented a hiring freeze, cut all senior staff salaries by 5%, and frozen the salaries of all other employees at current levels. Unfortunately these cutbacks alone were insufficient to close the entire gap. Ultimately we made the wrenching decision to reduce the museums staff of 140 employees by 12 positions (9%). Four areas of the museum have been affected: administration, development, conservation, and curatorial.
As a result of these unfortunate but necessary measures, the current economic conditions will not change the visitor experience. There will be no changes to admission prices, hours of operation, or major programming. Our lively artistic programming is one of the main reasons that the museum continues to thrive. Overall this year, we have seen an 8.5% increase in visitors. Our After Hours program, held on the third Thursday of the month, has seen a 17% increase in attendance. Our galleries and gardens continue to offer solace and beauty. Our Sunday concerts are sold out nearly every week, and podcasts of the performances are downloaded more than 35,000 times each month. In addition, we have made great progress toward our capital fundraising goals for the new building project, which is essential to the museums future.
The staff, trustees, and supporters of the museum remain committed to our mission of nurturing a new generation of talent in the arts and humanities by delivering the works of creators and performers to the public, and by reaching out to involve and serve the community. The Gardner collection will continue to be at the center of this effort as an inspiring encounter with beauty and art.
In these challenging economic times, we remain determined, as Isabella Stewart Gardner stipulated in her will, to provide for the education and enjoyment of the public forever.