The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts has laid off more than 90 percent of its staff in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
President and CEO Jamie Grant said the need for layoffs was discussed with the staff in a “virtual town hall” on Monday and the specific cuts were identified Tuesday. He said Tuesday was “a lousy day.”
“These are my friends,” he told MPR News. “These are my family. They’re the people who make the Ordway a special place.”
The Ordway, in downtown St. Paul, has been dark for three weeks. In normal times it is home to the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera and other organizations, and it serves as a venue for touring productions of Broadway shows. Among the productions that have been canceled during the pandemic are “The Color Purple” and “The Last Ship,” starring Sting.
Grant said the Ordway would continue to support its employees’ health coverage through the end of April and perhaps beyond that. Staff who remain at the Ordway will incur a cut of 20 percent in either salary or hours, he said.
He added that his “hope and expectation” is that the Ordway will be able to hire back all the laid-off staff once the crisis passes.
“The Ordway and what we do will be part of the prescription for recovery,” Grant said. “People will need us more than ever.”