The Tenement Museum on Manhattan’s Lower East Side announced today, July 22, that it has laid off its entire staff of part-time educators. The group of 71 workers constitutes 92% of the museum’s education staff. Five other hourly employees from the retail, marketing, and visitor services departments have also been laid off.
The 76 former employees join 13 full-time staff who were laid off at the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdown in March. On April 27, the Tenement Museum received a $1.4 million loan from the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) which it used to recall 40 full-time employees who had been furloughed on March 13.
In a statement to Hyperallergic, the Tenement Museum’s president, Morris Vogel, said, “Our educators make our programs come to life. They are an important part of the Museum’s success. We had hoped to avoid this drastic step.”
According to a museum spokesperson, Vogel took a 99% salary reduction in March. (He is currently being paid about $25 a month to be able to retain his dental insurance.) Additional salary reductions for senior staff are being currently being considered. The museum estimates at least a 50% budget reduction for the coming year (the museum’s annual budget before COVID-19 was about $11 million) due to the losses of revenue caused by the pandemic.