Brooklyn Museum director Anne Pasternak says that the institution will apply for federal aid to combat losses occasioned by the coronavirus crisis, which has brought New York, an epicenter of the pandemic, to a standstill. Pasternak cited a 15 percent plunge in the museum’s $108 million endowment as well as a $4 million dent in projected annual revenue now that the nonprofit is, like all of the city’s museums, closed indefinitely.
“We have always prided ourselves for punching above our weight, but this is a particularly huge challenge as we already run a very lean operation with one of the smallest operating budgets, endowments, and staff of any major museums in the nation,” Pasternak told Artnews. The director elected to take a 25 percent pay cut to her salary, which was $597,871 in 2017, according to publicly available filings. The organization, which employs four hundred people, is currently undergoing a hiring freeze; Artnet reported that the museum has ensured pay and benefits for all part-time and full-time staff through April 17, at which point it will reevaluate.
The Brooklyn Museum joins several arts institutions—including the Jewish Museum and the Rubin Museum of Art in New York—that have applied for the $2.2 trillion stimulus package’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which will allocate $350 billion in loans to payroll protection for small businesses with the proviso that they keep workers employed or rehire laid-off staff. This means that American museums that contributed to the wave of layoffs in recent weeks in attempts to minimize overhead will have to rehire their workers in order to qualify for PPP, whose accessibility for small nonprofits and charities has already come under scrutiny.