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DIA Restructures Fundraising Operation and Cuts Costs - Layoff Notices to 55 Employees - No Change in Museum Hours

Thursday, February 20, 2003

February 20, 2003 (Detroit) – Responding to reductions in public funding, the loss of Proposal K last November and the uncertain political and economic climate, the Detroit Institute of Arts has moved to significantly strengthen its fundraising operation and reduce its operating costs. The museum has instituted a major restructuring of its Development Division designed to address immediate financial needs and build for the future. At the same time, 55 employees will receive layoff notices (18 full time and 37 part time). After the reduction, the museum staff numbers 227 full time and 134 part time employees.

“It is extremely difficult to lose so many dedicated staff members, “ said Graham W. J. Beal, director, “but the reduction-in-force reduces operating expenses without compromising public programs or reducing museum hours. The development restructuring is a critical move toward building a strong, financially stable museum.”

Most of the affected employees (5 full time and 28 part time) are employed at the DIA’s two satellite museum stores in the Somerset Collection and Twelve Oaks Mall and at the main store at the DIA. The satellite stores have been consistently unable to meet projected profits and will be closed on March 31. The museum store at the DIA will remain open.

In addition, the DIA will close its Art Discovery program in Pontiac. The program was funded through a combination of grants that expire in June and have not been renewed. The closure will affect three employees (1 full time and 2 part time). The Art Discovery program in the Detroit Public Schools will continue.

Other affected individuals (6 full time and 5 part time) were employed in different capacities throughout the museum. In addition, the museum is eliminating 10 vacant positions (8 full time and 2 part time).

The restructuring of the museum’s development operation is the result of a comprehensive study conducted by John Brown Limited, Inc., a nationally recognized firm specializing in fundraising consultation and nonprofit management. The firm analyzed the DIA’s existing development operation and made recommendations for increased effectiveness and efficiency. A separate analysis reviewed the museum’s fundraising capacity in the current economic climate. Using the results of both studies, John Brown, Limited proposed a new operating structure for the development department, which will be immediately implemented.

Every position in the development division will be affected in the restructuring. Eight employees (6 full time and 2 part time) will be laid off because their positions have been eliminated. The division’s management structure will be streamlined, and new job descriptions will clearly focus individual fundraisers on solicitation and cultivation in support of the museum’s on-going $331 million capital campaign, annual giving and membership.

The restructured development department will actually result in a net gain of three full-time positions. In spite of its overall goal of reducing costs, the museum’s leadership is convinced that additional investment in the new development operation will allow the museum to address immediate financial needs and build for the future.

“We have known for some time that our development efforts were not operating at peak efficiency,” Beal said. “The restructuring ensures that we will have the appropriate framework to allow our staff, working closely with board members and volunteers, to successfully build significant support for our exhibitions, programs and capital projects.”

The DIA, like cultural institutions across the country, is addressing the challenge of maintaining its commitment to the public at a time of reduced support and economic uncertainty. A series of expense reductions will be instituted along with the layoffs, although Beal noted that there is little “fat” in the budget since the DIA instituted zero-based budgeting two years ago.

“The DIA is already a lean operation compared against peer institutions, but we believe we can achieve additional efficiencies and continuous improvement by closely reviewing every area of our operation, and we will continue to do so,” Beal said. “Throughout this process we intend to maintain a strong schedule of public programs and exhibitions. We will continue to work toward the realization of our strategic plan and toward fulfillment of our mission to display and conserve our extraordinary art collection while serving the public.”

Located in the heart of Detroit's Cultural Center, the Detroit Institute of Arts is recognized as one of the country's premier art museums. From the first Van Gogh to enter a public collection in the U.S. (Self Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera's world-renowned Detroit Industry murals, the DIA's collection reveals the scope and depth of human experience, imagination and emotion. Visit online at