Brooklyn Academy of Music Lays Off 13 Percent of Its Staff

of Brooklyn Academy of MusicNew York City, one of New York’s most important cultural institutions, has laid off 13 percent of its staff and cut programs in an attempt to fill a “massive structural deficit” during a difficult time for the arts. confirmed on Monday.

BAM took steps last week to cut 26 posts, according to a letter to staff from the organization’s president, Gina Duncan.

In the letter, reviewed by The New York Times, Duncan said the change was necessary for BAM to “survive a slump in philanthropy for the arts and address an outdated business model that relies heavily on philanthropy.” said it was. The contributor base is shrinking. ‘ She said the organization faces a ‘significant structural deficit’ each year.

“This is where we don our oxygen masks to continue fulfilling our promise to be a hub for adventurous artists, audiences and ideas,” she wrote in an email.

Ms Duncan noted that the Academy has already scaled back the Next Wave Festival, which was planned for this fall, adding that the entire program for next season will be curtailed. (Often the highlight of the city’s cultural year, the festival will feature seven programs this year, down from last year’s 13.)

“These difficult decisions were made following a rigorous systematic review process,” Duncan wrote in a memo.

“We can’t spend money to get out of the red and offer more shows than we can afford,” she added.

In April 2019, the year before the pandemic, BAM received a $2.8 million loan from Bank of America. According to financial documents. More than $2.4 million in balances will be paid out next June, according to the paper.

Local 2110 union representative Megan Grann, who represents technical, clerical and professional workers, said 17 of those who lost their jobs were union members. She said she has been offered at least three “potential new positions” within the arts institution.

“We are not at all happy with this development, to say the least,” she said. “Our main goal at the moment is to mitigate the damage as much as possible.”

The layoffs come at a time when BAM, which began exhibiting its work in 1861, felt compelled to deal with the post-pandemic challenges facing many arts organizations around the country. Earlier this month, Los Angeles theater flagship Center Theater Group laid off 10 percent of its workforce and suspended performances at one of its three stages, the Mark Taper Forum.

But as BAM faces these challenges, it’s also undergoing a significant leadership turnover after years of relative stability.

The facility’s artistic director, David Binder, is set to step down next month after nearly four years at the helm. His two predecessors, Joseph V. Melillo and Harvey Lichtenstein, each spent more than his 30 years at this facility.

On the management side, Duncan took over as president in 2022 after Katie Clarke stepped down after five years in the position (and was granted ownership of an apartment BAM helped buy). Clark succeeds Karen Brooks Hopkins, who spent 36 years at the facility, including 16 years as chairman.

In 2020, Norah Ann Wallace became BAM’s Chairman of the Board following the death of former Chairman of the Board Adam Max.

Like other arts organizations, BAM has had to contend with headwinds created by the pandemic, and live performances have been canceled for months. Many groups survived the shutdown with federal assistance, but when they reopened many found it more difficult to attract both audiences and donors.

When Binder announced his retirement this year, the agency had 222 full-time staff posts, down from 256 before the pandemic. Most recently, the number of such positions has dwindled to about 200, and the latest wave of job cuts is expected to bring that number below that threshold.

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