IMA budget cuts: Park pushed back

January 6, 2009
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Earlier today, the Indianapolis Museum of Art announced a series of cutbacks designed to trim $1.7 million from its budget due to "significant losses to its endowment as well as shortfalls in income generated through donations and purchases at the museum store and event rentals."

These include:

--Pushing back the opening of 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park to Spring of 2010.

--Eliminating the quarterly event catalogue, Art for You, along with other printed materials. More focus will be put on its website as a source for information.

--Instead of three major exhibitions yearly, there will now be two. It's two big 2009 shows, "European Design Since 1985: Shaping the New Century" and "Sacred Spain: Art and Belief in the Spanish World" will continue as planned.

--Eliminating positions through attrition and job reallignment.

--The IMA is also exploring cutting hours of operation. There is no plan to change the free admission policy.

Does all of this seem prudent in tough economic times? Can you suggest other cuts or revenue generation ideas?

Your thoughts?
  • Seems like pushing back the opening of the Art and Nature Park is not a long-term savings, but only solves a short-term cash flow issue. In the long run it might cost more, since costs will go up the later they are incurred. Unless the construction will be completed on schedule and they are only delaying the opening festivities?
  • The delay of the park makes sense to me given it is not at the core of the museum's primary focus even though it will be a unique and desirable feature for the IMA when completed. I'm delighted to know they will continue the freee admission policy. This is a significant contribution to our comunity and speaks volumes about how important we believe the art experience is AND our appreciation that it should be accessible to everyone regardless of economic status. Does it seem prudent in these economic times............absolutely given it will allow the basic contribution the IMA offers to continue at a reasonable level.
  • The IMA is a strong institution with a large endowment. As Doug says, the park isn't part of its core business, so I applaud the museum for starting there with its cutbacks, instead of immediately jumping to the decision that it needs to charge admission. I also like the idea of focusing on the Web site as a source of more information. It will be an interesting to watch the year unfold at the IMA!
  • An interesting note: I just read in Philanthropy Today that the National Academy Museum in New York sold two Hudson River School paintings for about $15 million to help cover its expenses. The Association of Art Museum Directors responded vigorously and negatively, resulting in museum members suspending loans of art to the museum.

    I doubt the IMA will resort to such shocking measures.
  • It's disappointing, but totally understandable. That endowment is precious. Overdrawing the endowment to maintain service levels is a recipe for doom. Belt tightening now to keep the institution strong for the long term is a prudent thing to do. The 100 Acres aren't going anywhere. Finishing the park in 2010 is a blip in the grand scheme of things and the long term future of the museum.
  • The originally scheduled opening of the outdoor nature park in the fall didn't make much sense to begin with as 90% of visits will occur between April and October. They are making very sound decisions right now as they are doing everything in their power to prevent layoffs and maintain the vision of the IMA and what it contributes to the community. More companies should use the IMA as a model on how to effectively coast through a potentially detrimental economic time.
  • IMA used to have a fascinating gallery, on the lower level, that would rent/sale
    local artists' work. What ever happened to that gallery?
    Could such a gallery be supported --by artists AND patrons--to generate funds and to give exposure?

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