The directors of NYC museums and cultural organizations are restructuring their multi-million dollar pay packages in anticipation of giant budget deficits caused by the coronavirus lockdown.

Metropolitan Opera General Manager Peter Gelb announced last month that he would waive his salary and cancel all opera performances until September. He also furloughed or laid off an estimated 700 employees, including musicians, singers and stagehands. The Met Opera, the country’s largest performing arts organization, is facing an $8 million to $12 million deficit.

“We are cutting expenses in every way possible in the coming months, including my own decision to take no salary,” Gelb said in the March 24 letter to subscribers, which sought donations. Gelb made $2,169,487 in total compensation in fiscal 2017, the latest federal tax filings show.  

Last week, Richard Armstrong, director of the Guggenheim, announced a restructuring of all salaries over $80,000 “on a graduated basis with the percentages being higher at higher salary levels,” according to an email obtained by Hyperallergic, an arts news website. The email was sent to staff announcing 92 employees would be furloughed as the organization faces a projected $10 million shortfall in revenue. Armstrong’s pay package totaled $1,255,591, tax filings show, and faces a 25 percent cut — or $313,897. 

Metropolitan Opera General Manager Peter Gelb

Dario Acosta/Metropolitan Opera

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Richard Armstrong, director of the Guggenheim

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Metropolitan Museum of Art Director Max Hollein

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At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where leaders are predicting a $100 million loss due to the coronavirus closure, high-level talks were held last month to discuss “restructuring” executive salaries and dipping into the storied institution’s $3.6 billion endowment to help staff, according to an insider. 

Met director Max Hollein, who was appointed in August 2018, received a compensation package totaling $764,093 for five months of work, according to the Met’s latest tax filings.

The Met announced last month it would pay its 2,200 employees until May 2. 

The Whitney Museum of American Art recently laid off 76 employees, and the organization’s director announced he was taking an immediate pay cut to help shore up a projected $7 million revenue shortfall. Whitney Director Adam Weinberg took in $1,083,525 in his compensation package, the Whitney’s most recent tax filings show.