Indianapolis Museum of Art announces staff reductions in cost-cutting move

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INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Museum of Art cut its staff by 11 percent as it tries to lower costs and place less emphasis on its endowment.

The reductions include 19 full-time positions and two-part time positions. In addition, the museum will not fill eight open positions. The IMA announced the move Monday morning.

The museum said employees who’ve been dismissed will get severance packages and outplacement services.

The museum’s Board of Governors unanimously approved the plan, which was developed by Dr. Charles Venable, hired last year to become the Melvin & Bren Simon director and CEO. Venable wants to boost attendance and reduce costs at the museum.

“These are difficult changes, but it is imperative that we reduce our reliance on the endowment so future generations can benefit from it,” said Venable. “In my opinion, endowments ideally should not be used to support more than 50% of operations as a rule with the other half being supported through donations and earned revenue. It pains me greatly that we have to make staffing reductions at this juncture, but it was clear that they were necessary. The IMA staff is very talented and the Board and I are grateful for the contributions of those who are leaving their employment at the IMA today, and we wish them well.”

The cuts affect every department from art conservation to education, grounds and security.

The museum’s endowment was valued at $326 million last June, but the portion available to pay for operating expenses is $203 million. The IMA plans to place greater emphasis on donated and earned income. Currently, the IMA is relying on its endowment to fund more than 70 percent of its operating budget.

“As an institution, the Board wants the IMA to be recognized not only for the vibrant and engaging programming it brings to our constituents, but also for our exemplary stewardship of the financial resources that have been entrusted to us and are meant to be perpetual,” said June M. McCormack, chair of the Board of the IMA. “The Board of Governors believes the vision put forth by our new Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO, Dr. Charles L. Venable, will achieve both these important goals.”

Since his arrival, Venable has placed a renewed focus on engaging the museum’s audience. He also wants to attract more visitors and expand the museum’s regional reach. Other changes include moving the welcome desk to the Efroymson Family Entrance Pavilion and a shift in training for Galley Guards to become Gallery Guides to provide a more inviting atmosphere.

The museum’s next big exhibit is Matisse: Life in Color, which was announced last month. The exhibit, slated to open in October, features the artwork of French painter Henri Matisse.

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