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Everson art museum cancels two exhibits amid budget deficit

Ryan Delaney
WRVO Public Media (file photo)
The Everson Museum of Art opened in downtown Syracuse in 1968 and houses 11,000 pieces.

The Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse has canceled two big exhibits in 2014 in an effort to stymie a large operating budget.

The museum lost $135,000 in 2013. Even by canceling two traveling exhibits slated for April and October, the museum’s leadership still predicts being in the red a total of $500,000 by the end of 2014.

The decision to cancel the exhibits was made at a board meeting this week. Had they not aborted on the two exhibits, the estimated deficit would have been $750,000.

Recently installed board chairman Gary Grossman says the art museum’s philosophy in the past was that "blockbuster exhibits" would bring in big revenue, "but it hasn’t worked. It was a good experiment, it was a noble approach, but it didn’t work financially," he said.

The 2009 Turner to Cezanne exhibit was the first such blockbuster showing, but Grossman notes it brought in no surplus revenue.

This week the board set up a task force to look at how to improve finances. Grossman says it will focus on increasing revenue, not shaving expenses.

Operating expenses are fairly fixed, Grossman said.

"We need to rethink the philosophy for matching our support with our artistic and programming plan and come up with a combination that’s going to support us to a greater extent," he said.

The Everson opened in 1968 and houses 11,000 art pieces. It's also searching for a new executive director, after Steven Kern left earlier this month.