Last week, nine staff members at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute lost their jobs, in the museum’s latest attempt to cut costs amidst economic hardship.
Tony King, deputy director of the Clark, confirmed the cuts to the North Adams Transcript last Wednesday, saying that the cuts affected all departments at the museum. The nine laid off staff members, with varying positions and degrees of experience, made up roughly six percent of the institution’s staff, according to King.
“The current economic downturn has impacted the Clark as it has other businesses and organizations throughout the country,” King told the Transcript, estimating that the museum’s endowment has decreased by 25 percent over the past few months due to market performance and decreased contributions.
In an early April letter addressed to “Friends of the Clark,” Director Michael Conforti said that despite increased attendance over the winter, cost-cutting measures were being made across the board. “Our senior staff and board have met regularly and considered adjustments in all areas of expense and revenue with a goal of minimizing the impact to our core program for the many audiences who come to the Clark for experience, education and research,” he wrote in the letter.
According to Conforti, 10 to 20 percent cuts have been made in all departments at the Clark, ranging from acquisitions to conferences, and staffing cuts were included in these spending decreases.
Museums across the country have been grappling with depleted endowments and declines in retail sales and membership. On April 2, the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston announced that 33 staff members – mostly in retail and fundraising – would lose their jobs, and that 21 unfilled positions would be eliminated. Amidst a near 30 percent drop in its endowment, the MFA also announced increases in membership fees and decreases in salaries.