Getty Trust to Slash Budget as Investments Tumble
Its diminished nest egg is now about where it stood in 2002, at the height of the last recession. Then, however, the trust was operating only one site, the hilltop Getty Center in Brentwood, where the Getty Museum is the attraction. In 2006, the renovated Getty Villa reopened near Malibu.
Together, the museums drew 1.6 million visitors in 2008. Admission is free, although parking costs $10.
Wood said the Getty's leaders and trustees would decide by the end of May what reductions to make. Although declining to specify possible cuts, he said that maintaining free admission was "a terribly important priority" because charging would be "a nasty socioeconomic curve" to throw to the less-affluent visitors the Getty aims to include.
Also, Wood said, he is against the wholesale lopping off of any of the trust's nonmuseum limbs -- the scholarship, conservation and grant programs that he said magnify the Getty's global influence in ways not available to other art institutions.
It would be a mistake "to simplistically say we're going to stop doing that" and just run the museums, he said during an interview in his sparsely furnished office, which commands a panoramic view of the city. "I don't think that would be the best thing for the Getty or Los Angeles, because it's one of the many things that makes L.A. a cosmopolitan, exciting place."
The Getty's biggest expense by far is the combination of salaries and benefits, which totaled $124.6 million in 2006-07, according to its most recent available federal tax return.
Wood said it was an "absolute priority" to keep staffers who have special expertise, including curators, researchers, art conservators and even the gardeners who tend the spectacular grounds at the Getty Center and the Villa. But in a December memo about the investment losses, he warned employees that staff cuts were coming.