Cuno Shakeup at the Getty: The Memo

UPDATE: As the Getty announced cost cutting measures, new fundraising efforts and the dismissal of two senior museum staff members, we found this tidbit on the Trust’s updated financial disclosure: Timothy Potts will be paid $690,000 a year as Getty Museum director, and will receive a signing bonus of $150,000. As already reported, CEO James Cuno earns $728,000 per year in base salary plus a $20,000 per month housing allowance, plus a one-time bonus of $150,000 for moving expenses and $250,000 in signing bonuses, plus a $500,000 deferred comp payment if he stays until 2016.

Here is the memo Getty Trust CEO James Cuno sent to museum staff regarding forthcoming changes across the institution:

Dear Museum Colleagues,

Among the most important responsibilities for the trustees, including the Trust President, is establishing strategic priorities for the J. Paul Getty Trust and ensuring that the resources available to us are focused on those priorities.  Another important responsibility is to assist the program directors in attracting additional resources, where possible, to achieve our goals.

As I discussed at the all-staff meeting in January, these responsibilities are especially important in the current economic environment when we cannot rely on growth in the value of our endowment investments to fund new ideas, projects and acquisitions.  That is why constant attention to finding better and more effective ways to accomplish our work is critical, and it is one of the reasons the trustees approved a plan for the expansion of development activities here at the Getty.

You know that I have had meetings with the leadership of each of the Getty’s programs to better understand the goals and aspirations of each of the programs as well as their operations since my arrival last August.  Likewise, I have been working directly with various Museum departments to review their operations and policies.

It is very possible that these reviews will result in changes by the end of the fiscal year. Even as this review process goes forward, however, I believe it is appropriate to make some immediate changes that will allow the Museum to focus more on collections and exhibitions and less on administrative matters and site-wide operations.  The savings created by these changes will remain within the Museum to address new Museum priorities that will be established by Tim Potts when he arrives in consultation with the trustees and me.

First, we will move Visitor Services to the Trust reporting to a newly named department, Visitor Services and Security.  This makes sense since these staff and our dedicated volunteers serve the entire Getty, not just the Museum.  We will also combine the Museum’s Events Department with the Trust’s events team, in the Facilities Department.  And we will move the operation of the Museum stores to the Trust, reporting to the Controller.  This relieves the Museum of the administrative oversight of the stores, as well as the obligation to meet the stores’ annual revenue target.

As a result of these changes, combined with the earlier relocation of Publications to the Foundation, the Museum’s administrative responsibilities have been reduced substantially.  There will no longer be a need for an Associate Director of Administration at the Museum, and regretfully, I must report that Tom Rhoads, who has held this post since 2006, will be leaving the Museum.  Tom’s assistant will be placed in an open position at the GRI.  The job of Museum Manager/Villa will also be eliminated and Guy Wheatley will be leaving the Museum.

I am very pleased that Tim Potts will join the Museum as its Director September 1.  By completing the review of Museum operations before then, we will be able to welcome him to a Museum that is focused directly on its core mission, with its financial and staff resources deployed in a more efficient and effective way.  I believe it is important for Tim to be able to focus on our collections, exhibitions and programming from day one, and not be distracted by administrative and financial functions that can be more efficiently handled by the Trust.

- Jim

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4 responses to “Cuno Shakeup at the Getty: The Memo

  1. Excellent management skills: fiscally sound, forward-thinking, and morale-boosting, Mr. Cuno and Getty officials have demonstrated, once again, and with astounding clarity, that they possess none of these skills.

  2. If one were to provide compensation for mismanagement then the reported salaries should be considered rather paltry.

  3. Pingback: Cuno’s Memo: 34 Positions Eliminated at Getty Museum, Mostly in Education, for “More Efficient Operations” | CHASING APHRODITE

  4. Pingback: Letter to Cuno: Dismissal of Educators Sparks Discord Inside Getty Museum | CHASING APHRODITE

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