For Immediate Release
25 March 2020
Contact: Jodi Joseph
Director of Communications
MASS MoCA Announces Cutbacks in Response to COVID-19 Disruptions
NORTH ADAMS, MASSACHUSETTS — MASS MoCA announced today that in response to business interruptions caused by COVID-19 and related government mandates, it will lay off 120 of its 165 employees, effective April 11. The workforce reduction affected every department, including management.
All employees — including hourly and part-time staff — will receive their regular paychecks through March 27, whether they have been able to work or not. Moving forward, all employees — including both hourly and part-time staff — will receive at least 70% of their regular pay through April 10. Those employees who will be laid off, and who participated in the organization’s healthcare plan, will continue to be fully covered through July 31, with the medical insurance premiums covered 100% by MASS MoCA.
After April 10, a small corps of security, buildings and grounds, and custodial staff will remain on full-time payroll, maintaining and securing the site. Commercial tenant operations on the MASS MoCA campus will also continue as permitted (including the U.S. Social Security Administration office, the Northern Berkshire District Court, and certain essential medical and legal offices). Several food and beverage businesses continue to offer take-out service.
MASS MoCA’s remaining employees will take voluntary reductions in work hours, or reductions in salaries of 18%-28% on a tiered schedule based on salary amounts (with the highest reductions applied to the highest salary tier). These remaining employees will be responsible for fund-raising, facilities management, and contingency planning for the organization’s re-launch.
Recognizing the unusual severity of the situation, and to fund the extended health-care benefits, campus security and maintenance costs, as well as salaries for the remaining staff, MASS MoCA’s Board of Trustees this week approved a special emergency draw from the board-restricted endowment.
Director Joseph Thompson said, “The COVID-19 contagion strikes at the very heart of our mission, which is to gather together large numbers of people around acts of creativity. So the pain is compounded. We are also aware of the role that MASS MoCA’s operations and programs play within the local and regional economy, and we will do everything within our power to re-launch at the soonest possible instant, following guidance from public health officials.” (1)
Thompson continues, “I am saddened by this drastic staff reduction, which will affect many of my colleagues and friends, and I join our Trustees and remaining staff in doing everything within my power to get as many as possible back to work rebuilding this great institution as soon as possible. Together with MASS MoCA’s Board of Trustees, let me express appreciation for this dedicated staff’s steady work under difficult conditions over the past month. I thank those who will continue working — in constrained circumstances — to rebuild this wonderful place so that we may all gather to enjoy art, music, dance, film, and theatre as soon as is possible. James Turrell reminds us: there is light out there. These difficult actions will help ensure we’re around to find it.”
MASS MoCA cancelled or postponed all performances as of March 7, and closed its museum galleries to the public as of March 15. Because half of MASS MoCA’s annual programming is in the form of concerts and other performing arts events — and because 70% of the organization’s annual budget comes from earned revenue sources such as museum gate, concert tickets, and concessions — the COVID-19 closure has a particularly harsh effect on its operating budget. At the same time, MASS MoCA’s endowment provides just 7.5% of its annual budget (with less than 2% of its budget coming from government grants, and 28% from private and foundation philanthropy).
MASS MoCA will continue to post updates, and provide brief moments of art, music, and other forms of creative expression, on its web site (massmoca.org), via email, to its members, and through social media.
(1) The most recent economic impact study by the Center for Creative Community Development, originally funded by The Ford Foundation and Williams College, calculated the total annual economic impact arising from MASS MoCA’s operations and visitor spending at $52 million (yearly), approximately twice the economic impact first projected for the institution during its initial planning phase.