Coronavirus may close one-third of America's museums for good, directors say
Written by kslmadmin on July 27, 2020
The art world, amid mass layoffs and furloughs as well as predictions of future budget cuts, is in “extreme financial distress,” reported the survey, which interviewed 760 museum directors from June 8 through June 30.
“Museum revenue disappeared overnight when the pandemic closed all cultural institutions, and sadly, many will never recover,” Laura Lott, president and CEO of AAM, said in a statement.
The survey said almost 90 percent of museums have only 12 months or less of money for operations; 56 percent of museums have less than six months left to cover resources.
The study said 33 percent of museums didn’t think they could stay open longer than 16 months without financial help; 16 percent of museums knew they were at “significant risk of permanent closure.”
More than 40% of museums set to reopen will come back with smaller staffs.
Carol E. Scott, who has been CEO of The Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert, in Rancho Mirage, Calif. for the last four years spoke to Fox News via email Monday about the scary terrain up ahead for her work.
“Our budget has been based on 85 percent earned revenue since I have been at the museum. When we closed on March 13 our earned revenue stopped: We used a little of our small reserves until I did a solicitation for donations and we received our PPP.”
This year she had to get creative to keep her museum afloat amid the outbreak.
She said: “We have been doing virtual programming from the beginning as well as virtual camp. We did not charge for anything but the cost of materials. California has had very strict guidelines from the beginning and when the guidelines were relaxed a little last month and museums and zoos were allowed to be open, we were trying to do a limited opening. However we were considered a ‘high-touch’ and would only be allowed to serve a single family at a time. We set about to make the museum ready to do a private single family household reserved activity time. Just as we were making ready to open, last week the governor set the state back to the original guidelines for us.”
Her space’s money will soon dry up, and their next steps are very open-ended.
“As of July 31 our PPP will run out and the limited staff we have been using will be furloughed again. We will be faced again with no revenue. Hard, heavy questions are ahead unless some of the grants we have written get funded. The remainder of limited reserves will only see us through a couple of months.”
AAM said museums support 726,000 jobs and contribute $50 billion yearly to the economy.
“Even with a partial reopening in the coming months, costs will outweigh revenue and there is no financial safety net for many museums. The distress museums are facing will not happen in isolation. The permanent closure of 12,000 museums will be devastating for communities, economies, education systems and our cultural history,” Lott said.
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