MIA, Walker cut salaries, reduce staff

The Minneapolis Institute of Art cut its fiscal year 2021 budget by $4 million because of the coronavirus pandemic. File photo

Southwest Minneapolis’ largest art museums have announced layoffs and salary cuts in response to coronavirus-related budget shortfalls.

Twenty-two of 249 Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) staffers have been laid off, and 17 took a voluntary separation package, the museum reported on June 22. All non-union staff have taken pay freezes, and members of the museum’s leadership team have taken 15% pay cuts.

On June 23, the Walker Art Center announced that it has laid off 33 part-time staff, all of whom work in visitor services, in the galleries or in the gift shop. It’s also freezing salaries, reducing retirement contributions and reducing senior staff salaries by 20% for director Mary Ceruti and 10% for other senior leadership.

In statements, leaders of both organizations said decisions to lay off staff were difficult. Both noted how federal Paycheck Protection Programs allowed them to cover staff salaries through the spring but said they anticipate reduced revenue in the coming year.

“We are deeply saddened by this very difficult situation and are grateful for our staff’s contributions and their dedication to serving our visitors,” Mia director Katie Luber said in a statement.

Mia has been closed since March 13 and plans on reopening with reduced hours in mid-July. The museum reduced its fiscal year 2021 budget by $4 million because of declining revenue.

A Change.org petition from Mia employees calling on museum leaders and staffers earning higher salaries to take steeper pay cuts has been signed by more than 1,000 people. Luber started her job in January making $500,000, and 2015-18 tax forms show there are three other positions at the museum with average salaries over $250,000.

“These proposed layoffs will disproportionately impact those already paid the least and in the most precarious financial situations,” the petition reads. “We also have serious concerns about the impact layoffs will have on Mia’s already meager staff diversity, considering most BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and people of color] staff at Mia are in non-managerial and grant-funded roles.”

Mia spokesperson Michaela Baltasar-Feyen declined to comment on calls for deeper pay cuts.

The Walker also has been closed since March 13 and plans on opening with reduced hours next month. The museum projects a $5.7 million drop in revenue.