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The Northwest Film Center, Oregon.
The Northwest Film Center, Oregon.

Portland Art Museum and Northwest Film Center Furlough 80 Percent of Staff

The Portland Art Museum and the Northwest Film Center in Oregon will furlough 80 percent of its workforce by April 16 in order to “preserve staff wages and benefits for as long as possible” and to “protect the long-term sustainability of the institution” as the United States combats the coronavirus. The news comes in the wake of job cuts, furloughs, and salary reductions at museums across the nation, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. The museum and the film center have been closed since March 14.

“I feel a great sense of responsibility to make sure our staff and institution are cared for as best we are able,” museum director Brian Ferriso said in a statement. Ferriso will take a pay cut along with other members of senior management. According to a release, the museum has monthly expenses amounting to $1 million, which it is no longer able to offset through revenue generated from admissions, space rentals, or retail operations. While the majority of the staff is now on unpaid leave, the institution has pledged to cover medical and dental benefits through June.

The museum, which merged with the Northwest Film Center in 1978, has applied and is currently waiting for the approval of its application for a small business administration loan through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. “I know that the Portland Art Museum and Northwest Film Center matter deeply to our staff and community,” Ferriso said. “I remain hopeful that we will emerge soon to offer the connection and inspiration that our institution has provided for more than a century.”