The Speed Art Museum has announced the second round of layoffs. The Louisville, Kentucky art gallery revealed plans to shutter its retail shop and lay off all of its employees. The four job cuts translate into around five percent of the gallery’s workforce.
Interim Director Stephen Reily denied the layoffs are symptomatic of larger financial troubles at the museum. In fact, the layoffs are simply a fine-tuning of resources and offerings. “It’s just a really appropriate time within all that for a careful evaluation of what’s succeeding really well and what needs adjustment,” Reily said.
An e-mail sent to museum staff indicated the layoffs would not take place until January. According to the e-mail, poor sales at the retail shop were not due to the staff’s performance. “After six months reviewing our store sales and data, I am convinced that the current model cannot generate net income, which is our goal,” it reads. “This is not because our colleagues are not achieving the best results possible.”
Reilly blamed weak sales at the retail store on competition; it had thousands of products, but little was unique or had anything to do with current exhibits. Consumers don’t leave their home thinking they need to go to the Speed Art Museum to buy a scarf. The short-sighted vision led to layoffs.
This is the second round of layoffs to hit the Speed Art Museum. The first round took place in August 2016, just five months after the museum completed a $60.0-million renovation project. At the time, seven employees, or eight percent of the workforce, was let go. Two other full-time positions were reduced to part-time. The museum said the restructuring was necessary to ensure sustainability.
After the first layoffs, Speed employed 78 full-time and 39 part-time employees.
“As part of yearly budgetary planning for 2017, the Speed came to the difficult, but necessary, decision that some positions will not be staffed moving forward,” Bowling said in an e-mail to Insider Louisville. “While unfortunate, this is the wisest course, to ensure the sustainable success of the Museum going forward. There were just a few positions changed or transferred from full to part-time. This restructuring will allow the Speed to run an efficient operation and sustain its vision for the future.”
Over the two rounds of layoffs, Speed Art Museum has trimmed its headcount by 13%. It remains to be seen whether additional necessary restructuring will take place in 2018.
“Second round of layoffs at Speed Art Museum,” Insider Louisville, December 4, 2017.
“Here’s Why The Speed Art Museum Is Rethinking Its Retail Strategy,” WFPL, December 5, 2017.
“Speed Art Museum lays off seven employees just months after completing major expansion,” Insider Louisville, August 18, 2016.