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Everson Museum board confronts budget deficit; Cancels special exhibits; launches Recovery Plan
Exhibitions like the Art of Video Games brought no surplus revenue to the museum.

SYRACUSE, NY.- Facing a projected deficit of $500,000 in years 2013 and 2014, the Everson Museum’s Board of Trustees, voted today to cancel two traveling exhibits scheduled to visit the museum this year. The board is planning the creation of a special task force to develop and implement a recovery plan for the museum.

The board vote discontinues the “Of Heaven and Earth: 500 Years of Italian Painting from Glasgow Museums” exhibit scheduled to be shown at the museum from April 19 to July 13 and the “African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era, and Beyond” exhibit scheduled for Oct. 18 to Jan. 4, 2015. Ticketholders will be contacted via email with refund information within the next week.

The board’s action follows a $135,000 loss from museum operations in 2013. Proceeding with the special exhibitions in 2014 would have propelled the total loss to $750,000 – nearly three quarters of a million dollars – and jeopardized the museum’s ability to meet its financial obligations by the middle of this year, or sooner. Canceling the exhibits will reduce the museums’ projected combined 2013 and 2014 loss to approximately $500,000 and will eliminate the need for the museum to make payments in the next several weeks for participation fees, shipping and advertising.

“The board is taking these painful steps to protect the long term health of the museum,” said Gary Grossman, the newly-elected president of the Everson Board of Trustees “While major exhibits such as Heaven and Earth and African American Art bring attention and interest to the museum, they have not attracted the necessary financial support to offset their high cost.”

The Turner to Cezanne exhibit in 2009, the first “blockbuster” exhibit brought to the Everson in recent history, was a popular attraction and received critical acclaim, but it brought no surplus revenue to the museum. The Heaven and Earth and African American Art exhibitions, with three months to go before its opening, was projected to increase the projected deficit by $250,000.

“Continuing with the exhibits knowing that they will only worsen the museum’s financial condition would be irresponsible,” Grossman said. “The right course of action for the museum and the community in 2014 is to focus on reducing the projected deficit, continuing the Everson’s core operations and protecting its position as one of Central New York’s premier arts and cultural institutions.”

The costs of operating a museum like the Everson are significant and, in most major areas, fixed. Security and the appropriate staff roles are required to maintain the more than 11,000 piece collection. Certain building maintenance and infrastructure cannot be deferred without risking the collection. To meet the challenges of our ongoing costs and to drive growth, the Everson must create a sustainable model for the future.

The task force being planned will be charged with creating a financial recovery plan, including managing the museum’s current financial obligations; identifying sustainable sources of revenue; exploring collaboration and partnerships with other arts, culture and educational institutions; and achieving long-lasting financial stability.

A search committee to replace executive director Steven Kern, who announced his departure from the museum in late 2013, will begin its work after completion of the museum’s recovery plan. Assistant director Sarah Massett has been appointed to serve as the museum’s Interim Director until a new Executive Director is chosen. Ms. Massett has been with the Everson Museum since 2006.

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