NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 25, 2010

New York City's taxpayer-funded museums and cultural attractions suffered their worst economic crisis in decades, but still paid executives fat salaries and bonuses -- and doled out perks like housing allowances and club memberships, says the New York Post. 

Hammered by the recession, with donations down and endowments shrinking, the institutions saw revenue drop by 50 percent in some cases, according to tax filings for the year ending June 30, 2009. The groups cut hundreds of jobs and slashed programs.   Yet bosses at many of the 33 museums, zoos and other attractions hardly felt the hit.  They continued to rake in six- and seven-figures in salaries and benefits, says the Post. 

For example: 

  • Suzanne Brenner, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's chief investment officer, got a $354,923 bonus, bringing her total compensation to $1.2 million in 2008; yet the income from investments she supervised plummeted from $270 million to $112 million.
  • Carnegie Hall, meanwhile, paid its executive director, Sir Clive Gillinson, $965,538 in salary and benefits in 2008; he also got a membership in an undisclosed dining club "for business use only."
  • At Lincoln Center, President Reynold Levy's compensation came to $1.18 million in 2008; the arts group also pays some travel expenses for companions who accompany executives on trips.
  • While budget crunchers were threatening to fire the Bronx Zoo's porcupine, Society Director Steven Sanderson's salary and benefits were $1 million in 2008, including an Upper East Side apartment.  

At the American Museum of Natural History, director Ellen Futter and others got a 5 percent pay cut in early 2009.  But Futter's 2008 pay package of $967,038 included $702,009 in base salary, a $50,000 bonus and an Upper East Side home.  Futter's $1 million compensation in 2007 put her among the highest-paid art museum directors in the country, says the Post. 

Source: Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein, "Culture vulture$," New York Post, May 24, 2010. 

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