The Rochester Art Center has laid off five of its 12 employees after an audit found deep financial difficulties.
The art center has suffered a series of personnel and financial blows in the last year. Executive director Megan Johnston left without explanation after a short tenure. She was gone within weeks of the completion of an independent auditor's financial report saying there was substantial doubt the center could survive.
The departures include two full-time employees.
According to a statement from board president Brad Nuss and the museum's interim director Lee Koch, the layoffs are meant to help balance the center's struggling budget.
Carly Banks managed the RAC's visitor experience efforts until last week. She left the center by choice. But Banks says she was increasingly frustrated with what she called a lack of transparency from the center's leadership about the its financial future and personnel issues.
"The writing was on the wall. And as soon as I saw an opportunity to get out, I did," Banks said.
She also said the center's salaried staff members were being overworked.
"Because we were in such financial struggles," Banks said, "the people who were salaried were expected to work at least 45 hours a week if not more, and be on call 24/7."
The layoffs and financial difficulties come as the Destination Medical Center economic development project seeks to transform Rochester into a magnet for medical professionals and patients. The Art Center has become a physical and symbolic hub of an arts scene whose growth is central to the DMC plan.
But after an Andy Warhol show ends later this week, the center has no headliner exhibits scheduled for the rest of 2017.
In their statement, Nuss and Koch said that they will be hiring consultants to pick up work left by those who were laid off.
The RAC's leaders are expected to lay out a revised financial strategy during the center's annual meeting later this month.
The job cuts aren't a major surprise given the center's financial woes, said city council President Randy Staver. The city has given the RAC more than $1 million in recent years to support the building's operations and to offset losses stemming from nearby construction that cut into traffic.
Staver said the RAC hasn't asked the city for additional money yet. But if the request comes, Staver said that the council will want to look closely at the center's strategy and financial planning.
"I suspect it would be a difficult request unless there were some distinct assurances that things were on track for the future."