Museum and Film Center adopt measures to extend staff employment during COVID-19 closure

In order to preserve staff wages and benefits for as long as possible, as well as protect the long-term sustainability of the institution, the Portland Art Museum and Northwest Film Center will place approximately 80 percent of staff (60 percent of full-time equivalents) on unpaid leave status, effective April 16.

The move follows the closure of the Museum and Film Center to the public on March 14 in accordance with the community health order issued by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to combat the spread of COVID-19. 

“I feel a great sense of responsibility to make sure our staff and institution are cared for as best we are able,” said Portland Art Museum Director Brian Ferriso. 

Since the closure, the Museum and Film Center have incurred $1 million per month in payroll and other expenses, without offsetting revenue from admissions, rental event business, retail operations, and other channels. 

After analyzing all options for managing through the crisis, leadership decided to place the majority of staff on unpaid leave status. This option allows employees to continue to be compensated by using their sick and vacation time. The Museum will also continue to provide health and dental benefits through June.

The institution has also submitted and is waiting for approval of an application for a Small Business Administration loan now available through the federal CARES Act and is continuing to explore other funding avenues.

During the closure, Director Brian Ferriso will take a pay cut along with some members of the Museum’s senior leadership team.

“I know that the Portland Art Museum and Northwest Film Center matter deeply to our staff and community,” Ferriso said. “I remain hopeful that we will emerge soon to offer the connection and inspiration that our institution has provided for more than a century.”

During the closure, the Museum and Film Center have made a variety of channels available for people to connect and experience the collections, programs, and exhibitions virtually.