Cultural Capital

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A recent piece in the New York Post (May 23) observes that there is no recession for New York City’s culture mavens. The article reports that cultural attractions such as museums have been hit hard by the recession. Donations and endowments have dropped, resulting in revenues shrinking by up to 50%. So these organizations — 33 zoos, museums, and music halls — have had to slash jobs and programs. But all the while the executives kept getting ever more lavish pay and benefits.

For example, in 2008 the Metropolitan Museum of Art saw its revenues drop by 40% and had to lay off nearly 400 workers, but it still paid its chief investment officer $1.2 million in annual compensation, including a $350,000 bonus. It refuses to disclose what it is paying its new director.

Carnegie Hall, likewise, had to cut its schedule as revenue dropped $6 million, but it still paid its executive director nearly $1 million a year (including such benefits as a membership in a tony dining club). And the Lincoln Center, which cut its staff by 9% as it saw its investment income disappear, still paid its president $1.18 million a year in total compensation (including reimbursement of some of his companions’ travel expenses).

Nice to know that some people are doing swell in tough economic times!

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