Skip to comments.(African American) Museum lays off all of its employees
Posted on 05/05/2004 5:07:59 AM PDT by 2banana
Museum lays off all of its employees
The African American Museum in Philadelphia cited delays in large donations. Volunteers are keeping the building open.
By Anthony S. Twyman and Patricia Horn
Inquirer Staff Writers
The African American Museum in Philadelphia has laid off its entire paid staff because of a short-term budget shortfall and is operating with volunteers, the museum's director said yesterday.
Harry Harrison, the museum's president and chief executive officer, said that on Monday he laid off 15 full-time workers and four part-time employees, primarily because corporate and foundation donations expected in March are now due in June.
Those laid off include managers, among them the directors of the education and exhibition departments, and janitors.
Harrison said the "cash-flow" problem amounts to about a $30,000 shortfall - two weeks' worth of payroll - which he hopes to rectify soon. It is not indicative of the museum's management or its overall fiscal stability, he said.
"The funds didn't come in when we anticipated," Harrison said. "I'm very, very optimistic that the gap will be closed soon."
The museum, at 701 Arch St., was open yesterday and will continue to be open to the public, Harrison said, because volunteers have stepped in and are helping out.
Harrison said he had worked "diligently" to find ways to make up the shortfall but could not come up with the cash.
"A lot of it is promised and pledged and committed," he said.
Many of the foundations pushed back the date when they usually donate money because of the national economic slump, he said.
The museum has a $1.7 million annual budget, according to Harrison.
To close a $227 million gap in the city's operating budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, Mayor Street has proposed slashing the $300,000 annual subsidy to the museum by 10 percent: $30,000.
But Harrison said that prospective cut has nothing to do with the shortfall the museum is experiencing in this fiscal year.
He hopes to rehire the employees when the foundation and corporate funds come, within the next few weeks.
City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, an advocate for the city's arts and cultural programs, called the layoffs "disappointing" and said she hoped Council would restore the $30,000 that the Street administration planned to cut from the museum's budget.
"What they do speaks volumes to the cultural fabric of this city," she said.
The chairman of the museum, Donn Scott, an executive vice president at Wachovia Bank, said: "There is no question that we do have a cash-flow problem at this point. We are working around the clock to address that problem, and we would expect it to be corrected in the near term."
Bettye Collier-Thomas, a former museum board member and a professor in Temple University's history department, who is on leave writing a book about African American women and religion, agreed that the museum is valuable and worthy of support.
"This was the first African American museum to be supported by a city when it was established in the 1970s," she said. "But it is extremely difficult to raise the type of funding to run these museums - particularly now, when people are not giving as much - and African American museums have a more difficult time raising funds than mainline institutions."
The African American Museum is not the only institution of its kind unable to pay its bills.
The country's largest African American museum - the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit - says it needs $510,000 in funding from that city to stay open until the end of its fiscal year and pay its staff, according to reports in the Detroit Free Press.
Contact staff writer Anthony S. Twyman at 215-854-2664 or email@example.com.
1. Does the city support Italian American or Irish American Museums. Why not?
2. Why don't African Americans support "their own" museum?
3. Considering that there are "white" born africans that are now Americans that are not represented by this museum, why not change the name of the museum to what it really is...
Why should they support "their own" when they can get the
saps taxpayers to do it for them?
If you want on (or off) of my black conservative ping list, please let me know via FREEPmail. (And no, you don't have to be black to be on the list!)
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All things being equal (HA!)with 15 full-time and 4 part-time, this means each employee would be making close to 46K/year! Now somehow, I don't see these museum workers making that much. I wonder how much of that "payroll" is for Mr. Harrison?
The reason Harrison has to beg is that the museum cannot support itself with admission fees and concessions. It is simply one more socialist failure. The free market is the answer -- if they have a good museum.
There is not a word here about the obvious question whether the museum is worth visiting. And if it isn't good enough to attract visitors, why don't they just shut it down? Funneling more tax dollars into a loser is pure waste.
Harrison should be looking for one-time grants to make the museum attractive, interesting and instructional. He should have specific plans for the improvements and a specific story how the renovation would increase admission.
Well, you know what? Just this year we had to have a tax levy to keep the Museum Center alive. The Museum Center has a children's museum, a natural history museum, and a Cincinnati history museum in it, and features a water play area, a giant tree house, and dozens of incredible hands on exhibits for kids and adults alike.
Now, if something that cool and universally interesting can't pull it's own weight on the west side of town, please explain to me how the "National Guilt Museum", occupying expensive prime real estate down on the Riverfront is going to pull money into our local economy, after All The Regular Suspects have done their level best to make America think that we are all racist, redneck hatemongers?
Mark my words, two years from now the very same people who insisted we need this (excuse me) white elephant that is going to be so popular will be blaming me for keeping people away from it, and coming around with their hands out extorting me by threatening to call me a racist if I don't give them a big wad of cash. (And the cops will still be being blamed for shooting back at the people who try to kill them. Maybe if we just voted the money to give tasers to everybody who wants to hold up a White Castle...)
Many of the foundations pushed back the date when they usually donate money because of the national economic slump
Isn't the economy in good shape?
Oops, I forgot, the economy can't possible be good while there's a Republican in the White House. Just like there are no homeless people when the Democrats rule.
My first thought and math equation. You know darn well it is six figs with little left over.
Still, mind if we have an outside audit?
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