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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

More Layoffs at the Taubman

I first mentioned on Friday via Facebook that some staffers from the Taubman Museum were fired. Later on Twitter I questioned whether there were any journalists in the Roanoke Valley who would bring us the story. Finally, four days later the Roanoke Times reports "breaking news" on it. It's amazing what an average citizen picks up just walking around the city while it takes "real journalists" days to sniff out a story...

On July 15, 2009 in an entry posted on my last blog I wrote about the Taubman Museum and their then recent layoffs. In the post you'll see I predicted that in the future the museum would depend more on volunteers as resources thereby letting other staffers go to save money. Same thing goes for interns.



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"July 15, 2009

Volunteers As Resources

A couple of days ago the Taubman Museum raised its admission rates. Yesterday the Taubman Museum laid off more folks, two full timers and several part timers. Last March 18% of the museum's staff was let go. According to this article, when asked if these layoffs would be "the last, Williamson (museum board president) said, "Never say never."

After reading this passage in the same article...

"She (Templeton, external affairs director) said the reason for this week's layoffs was "largely the economy, and just being fiscally prudent and efficient with the resources we do have.

"We have an incredible pool of volunteers to step in, Templeton said."
...I'd say we haven't seen the last of the layoffs. I wouldn't be surprised to see in the near future more volunteers working for the $66 million museum than paid employees. After all, by getting people to work for free, the museum would be "fiscally prudent and efficient with the resources", and by resources, I mean volunteers.

Now don't get me wrong. Volunteering is fine, and many of us do it in some form or another, but I don't like the idea that people are losing their livelihoods because someone else is willing to work for free. I feel the same way about giving writing, or whatever talent one has, away for free to those that charge. The local media outlets don't want to pay, or will pay too little. They too depend on "resources", which cost them nothing, to supplement their livelihoods while only granting one the "glory of" seeing one's name in print or on-air as payment. Those that allow themselves to give away the milk for free make it hard to those who need to bottle that milk and give it to their family.

I don't think we should make it so easy for these media/art/whatever outlets. This goes for retailers too. Ukrop's is having a tough time making a go at it. Don't fire workers, open on Sundays. Simple as that. I'm sure many of their employees wouldn't mind working on a Sunday. If Ukrop's continues to stand behind it's outdated "corporate policy", then they shouldn't moan if they fail. Adapt to your customer's needs. Pssst...people use the coupons in the Sunday paper to go shopping on...Sunday.

Back to the museuum. Rather than the Museum just looking to slash their paid staff in an effort to save a buck, and will also decrease the attendance of the friends and family of the fired worker, they should be looking into why they are not doing well in the first place. What other measures could be taken to rectify the situation? And please, you can't keep blaming the economy. Adapt to the economy. How many times have you visited the museum other than the free opening night? Would you be inclined to visit more now since they raised the admission price? What would bring you back there? I'd hate to see it fail, but I think they're going the wrong way. I keep flashing back to that Simpson episode..."


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So I guess raising admission rates to the museum didn't exactly increase attendance. Gee, who wouldathunk it? Notice Ukrop's is no longer with us either! They didn't adapt either. Wonder who's next? Perhaps even the Roanoke Times, since they seem to be having a hard time adapting as well.

3 comments:

  1. Great blog, Elena! You made several good points here!

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  2. You are right on target. Listen, downtown is in trouble period. It's not just the museum. Many business owners are suffering from the economic downturn. Retail is way off, to say the least. I hope that Taubman starts to bring in shows that locals and visitors to the museum find exciting. Right now, it is flat.

    Ukrop's was a "family business" which meant no alcohol sold there. You are right, adaptation is key here with the economy in such a bad state.

    Keep these powerful blogs coming Elena, you are the greatest!

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  3. Thanks ladies. I'm so disappointed that the local media just went with the museum's press release. Don't they even realize the bigger picture...long time staff are being replaced with cheaper interns and/or no pay volunteers!

    Cheryl, I was wondering if downtown was in trouble too. Do you think the additional food tax has created an added burden to the restaurants? What about traffic on the market? Have you noticed any slowdown? I went to Wasabi's for lunch last week and the place was full. The week before I went to the Thai joint on 1st and we were the only ones in there...has been like that the last couple of times. I hope his business picks up. Meanwhile the Brambleton Deli in SW County is always packed lunch time.

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