COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the Bay Area's dining and arts scenes, claiming hundreds of restaurants and putting even more financial pressure on local culture hubs. Citing a massive loss of revenue, the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) was recently forced to remove 20 full-time positions.

Amid the pandemic, OMCA announced in a recent press release that the institution has lost some $2.5 million in earned revenue since it has remained closed to the public for now well over a year. Even worse: OMCA now estimates that it will see an additional $2.3 million in evaporated income this upcoming fiscal year. And being that staffing-related costs make up more than 70% of the museum’s overall expenses, it was only a matter of time before serious job cuts were made to at least mitigate the nearly $5 million that OMCA expects to lose since the pandemic began.

“I have so much gratitude for everyone’s full participation in this process, and feel fortunate that we’ve been able to keep our staff employed up to this point during such a difficult year,” said OMCA Director and CEO, Lori Fogarty in a press release.

(Previously, a PPP loan was given to OMCA in April of 2020... funds that were almost exclusively used to pay full-time staff employees through the end of this past summer. Afterward, staff was left to reduce their working hours, allowing the museum to avoid layoffs for all part-time and full-time staff through December 31, 2020. Alas, that was now over three months ago.)

Fogarty also has shifted how the art center will hire new staff when the time comes, as well. OMCA will expand its commitment to becoming an "anti-racist and equitable multicultural organization" in the coming months — adding that the current staff reductions didn't adversely impact the frontline staff and lowest-paid workers.

“Beyond the unfortunate reality of a reduction of staff positions, this new structure will shift the ways we work together, and we are implementing staff recommendations related to advancing our commitment to becoming an anti-racist, equitable, multicultural organization," she adds. "This organizational redesign is intended to make the museum more relevant to our community, and is consistent with our vision for our social impact — building trust, connection, and understanding between people and groups.”

And to ensure OMCA's most financially vulnerable employees have an additional earnings cushion, a "new compensation philosophy" will see an increase of base-level pay for low-earning workers increase to four times the federal poverty level; this amounts to an increase of $9 per hour for those workers.

Respite, thankfully, is now on the horizon after OMCA announced it intends to reopen in June of 2021 — which will be well over a year since it closed to the public on March 13, 2020.

To give a tax-deductible to OMCA — and also have your donation matched as part of the organization’s “Double Your Impact” grant challenge, which will see every donation made before June 30 matched, dollar for dollar, by an anonymous donor up to $75,000 — click here.

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SFMOMA Set To Reopen Next Week With New Large-Scale Wall Projects, Pandemic-Inspired Artwork

Image: "Woman with Elbow on Raised Knee," by Viola Frey on display at OMCA (Photo: Courtesy of Twitter via @oaklandmuseumca)