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Citing Attendance Slump, SFMOMA Cuts 20 Jobs

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) has laid off seven staff members and will not fill 13 open positions, Director Chris Bedford announced last week.

Bedford cited a “challenging pandemic recovery,” including a 35% attendance drop for the 2023 fiscal year compared to that of 2019. He also mentioned rising costs and the “forthcoming exhaustion of pandemic-related relief funds” as reasons for the staff reduction.

The museum increased its admission fees by over 20% last month for the first time since 2016, bumping the standard adult ticket from $25 to $30. SFMOMA’s adjusted fees announcement highlights that admissions and membership fees make up approximately 22% of the institution’s annual revenue, also acknowledging the reduced foot traffic in San Francisco’s Downtown since the onset of COVID-19. As of 2022, SFMOMA’s assets totaled $809 million, according to ProPublica‘s Nonprofit Explorer.

The increased ticket prices kicked off during the October 14 opening of Yayoi Kusama’s latest solo exhibition at the museum, Infinite Love, which requires separate admissions reservations online at a $10 surcharge to experience the artist’s signature Infinity Mirror Rooms for just two minutes. Ahead of the show’s opening, Kusama apologized for several instances of anti-Black commentary in her 2002 autobiography and other text-based works from her early career in New York. Kusama’s comments picked up traction after Dexter Thomas’s Opinion piece for Hyperallergic in June.

Local news outlet KQED reported that the seven laid-off employees spanned different departments and that some union positions were affected. Neither the museum nor SFMOMA’s union have responded to Hyperallergic‘s requests for comment.

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