The San Antonio Museum of Art confirmed that it laid off 11 of its 103 employees. The layoffs were made after unexpected costs related to roof and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) repairs.
“It was a targeted set of staff reductions that reflect both the strength of our existing staff and were made to make sure the museum can continue to operate and deliver its core mission and its excellent programs,” said Katie Luber, museum director.
Normally, staff cuts occur when the broader economy is weak and arts organizations fail to raise enough funds, or through mismanagement and rising operational costs. That was not the case this time, however; it was a result of unexpected expenses.
Luber said that over the last year-and-a-half, the museum was hit “with several unanticipated and very costly capital expenditures.” This included extensive damage to every roof on the building during a hail storm in April 2016, which also lead to the early closing of the Corita Kent and the Language of Pop exhibition.
While the roof was insured, “insurance does not cover all costs, nor does it pay for ancillary expenses such as de-installing a major exhibition in an emergency.” (Source: Ibid.)
The San Antonio Museum of Art also needed to replace its HVAC system. While raising money to pay for the expenses, two air conditioning chillers malfunctioned and the cooling towers failed.
Overall, the expenses amounted to $200,000. The museum’s annual operating budget is also $200,000. These unexpected events were responsible for the museum laying off 11 employees. The jobs were cut from every department across the museum.
“It all inevitably affects our operating costs, and being good fiduciary leaders we always track our budget,” Luber said. “We saw we were over budget, and we knew we had to make some changes to be able to continue our financial health for the future of the museum.”
The unexpected expenses also led to the museum implementing cost-cutting measures across all departments, as well as a departmental reorganization.
“We are prudent about the way that we manage our money, so instead of letting that become a problem, we felt we wanted to take some measures to solve that problem,” Luber said.
Those employees whose jobs were eliminated have been provided financial support and will receive recommendations and assistance in seeking other jobs.
“SA Museum of Art Lays Off 11 Employees,” Rivard Report, June 13, 2017.)