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Hard times starting to hit arts sector

The arts and culture sector has bucked many of the trends in the rest of the economy by relying on foundation support and individual giving. But in a sign that the tough economy may be catching up, these groups are beginning to trim around the edges.

The arts and culture sector has bucked many of the trends in the rest of the economy by relying on foundation support and individual giving. But in a sign that the tough economy may be catching up, these groups are beginning to trim around the edges.

Transcript:
Nonprofits are traditionally maternalistic about their employees, says consultant Kim Erhard, so trimming benefits hasn’t been something they’ve relished. Erhard works for health care consultant Gallagher Benefit Services. She says now organizations like the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and its members are beginning to reconsider.

Erhard: “That’s a shift, it takes a long time, many organizations, especially the nonprofits, really want to hold onto the ability to say, we offer 100 percent of the cost of the coverage – it used to be families, now it’s employees, things are changing with the times, for sure.”

In the last three months, Erhard says organizations have begun to more proactively find ways they can trim costs to avoid layoffs. She suggests audits of eligible beneficiaries and introducing a co-pay. Other measures arts groups are considering include halting pay raises and a freeze on hiring along with delaying facility repairs.

Listen:
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[audio: arts20090309economy.mp3]

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