Friday, 1 May 2009

Getty Trust to slash budget and lay off staff

The Los Angeles Times has an article about the Getty (Getty Trust to slash budget and lay off 97 workers April 27, 2009) about the effects of the current US economic crisis on the institution. Besides running a museum of classical 'art', pre-20th century European art and and photographic art some of it in a replica Roman villa (!), the J. Paul Getty Trust issues grants to other arts institutions and operates institutes dedicated to art research and global programs in art conservation.

The Trust has announced that under a newly adopted budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year that begins July 1, it will slash its workforce by 14%. Among other things the cuts will include reductions in the amount of money the institution spends on acquisitions of more ancient Greek and Roman antiquities. That at least is good news for the archaeological heritage of the “source countries”.

The ‘Silence Dogetty’ blog makes depressing reading, it is a blog for Getty Museum employees on the eve of the decisions concerning the staff cuts that were announced at the end of April, and immediately following. The posts are all anonymous. Those of us who have been in the same position (and who has not?) can sympathise. One comment (April 28th 7:13 AM) caught my eye:

Where could the Getty be at this point if we had not spent millions – MILLIONS – in antiquities acquisitions that have been returned to the countries of origin? It’s not like we didn’t know that these acquisitions were high risk. Talk about
bad stewardship of resources! Has anyone assumed responsibility? Only Marion [Marion True PMB] made the scapegoat - where was the Board? Not use wondering
now, but perhaps we can draw a lesson for the future about thinking about consequences down the line.
Consequences of course not just for the Getty and its staff.

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