Museums report huge income losses in Nemo survey
Rebecca Atkinson, 14.04.2020
Despite costs, most have retained staff for now
Many museums, especially larger institutions and those in tourist areas, have reported losses of income of up to 80% as a result of Covid-19, a survey conducted by the Network of European Museum Organisations (Nemo) has found.
The survey, completed by more than 650 museums from 41 countries during a two-week period, includes data on weekly budget losses, strategies to cope with the situation internally and an overview of museums’ digital presence.
Of those responding, 92% of museums are closed to the public and the majority of those have reported lost revenue from tickets, retail, cafes and other services – some of up to 75% and 80%.
Big museums such as the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, are losing between €100,000 and €600,000 per week.
The survey found that most international exhibitions in 2020 have been postponed, and capital projects have been placed on hold or being re-considered altogether.
Despite the huge impact of Covid-19 and the number of closures, fewer than 100 museums responding to the survey said employees have been laid off – and 70% said they had changed staff tasks and moved people to remote working.
However, many museums have put their contracts with freelancers on hold and most have stopped their volunteering programmes.
Nemo said that 60% of museums have increased their online presence during closures – although only 13.4% have upped their budgets for digital activity – and 40% have seen website visits increase.
In response to its findings, the network said: “There is no fast-track back to normal. Rather than making a return to normal our goal, we must learn from this crisis in order to effectively respond, mitigate, adapt and integrate.”
Last week, an open letter initiated by the Greens of the European Parliament and 105 MEPs, and signed by 312 cultural associations including Nemo, called for “immediate and long-term support actions” for the creative and cultural sectors during the corona crisis.
“Without immediate action, the negative consequences of this crisis will affect much more than our economy,” the letter states. “We might not be able to recover from this ‘culture shock’ for many years, losing much of the richness and diversity of the European cultural scene.”
The letter includes a petition to the European Commission and EU Member States.