I knew something was afoot earlier this week, but specifics have just been released regarding the Museum of Contemporary Craft's immediate future. And frankly, I was bracing for worse:
Museum of Contemporary Craft announced today a revised operations budget for fiscal year 2009. The Museum took proactive measures to right-size the organization's operations to reach optimal financial health. In response to the current national economic climate coupled with the goal to ensure long-term sustainability of the organization, the Museum's Board of Directors approved a revised operational budget of $1.53M for fiscal year 2009. The prior budget was $2.19M. Since opening the doors of the Museum's new facility in Portland's Pearl District in July 2007, the Museum exceeded visitor goals by fivefold, doubled membership and received international recognition for exhibitions and programming. While the Museum has the desire to sustain this level of public interest and momentum, the Museum felt, given the nation's uncertain economic environment, its commitment to fiscal responsibility needs to be priority. "Building on the momentum and excitement of our move to the Pearl last year and given what's happening nationally, we needed to find the balance in how best to respond to these issues. Right-sizing the museum before the end of the fiscal year enables us to maintain the community's interest while prioritizing our goal of sustainability," said Museum Board President Kathy Abraham. Another key part of the Museum's efforts in reaching optimal financial health is the transition of David Cohen's role as Executive Director. Cohen will now focus on the Museum's priority to raise unearned income. To support David's transition, an Interim Executive Director has been brought in to manage daily operations and provide the support needed for staff during this transition. Taking prudent measure to ensure fiscal stability resulted in the difficult decision to make necessary staff layoffs. The Museum's staff size was 22 and is now at 15. These outcomes reflect the right level of staffing and budget the Board believes the organization needs to be at this time. Additionally, the Museum anticipates a short-term impact to programming and may postpone some programs into the next fiscal year. "For more than 71 years, the Museum of Contemporary Craft has been an important part of shaping Portland's cultural landscape and does what no other museum on the West Coast does in the visual arts. Transparency and stewardship are our core values and we believe our due diligence today will ensure a solid future for the Museum of Contemporary Craft," concluded Abraham.