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More bad arts news: Walker announces budget cuts

This is not the type of story an arts organization wants to see on Page One: “Walker Art Center will trim $1.1 million from budget.”

The Walker Arts Center joins the growing list of major arts organizations announcing budget cuts as the result of a worsening economy and a decline in the value of endowments, Pioneer Press arts critic Dominic P. Papatola reports. Among them are the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Children’s Theatre Company. “The Guthrie Theater, which will announce its season next week, is also expected to be leaner,” Papatola writes.  

The value of the Walker’s endowment fell 23 percent between June 2008 and January 2009 — from $197 million to $152 million. The Walker draws 40 percent of its budget from investment earnings on its hefty endowment. Donations, memberships and foundation grants also are declining.

The only good news is that the Walker isn’t cutting any jobs through the end of the year, thanks to a group of anonymous donors stepping forward. But it is leaving seven positions vacant and is requiring employees to take unpaid leave. Walker director Olga Viso also is taking a pay cut this year and next.

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