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Charlotte’s Mint Museum cuts hours to save money

Charlotte’s Mint Museum is cutting operating hours in its first major cutback since 2009, when the full force of the recession was felt.

Beginning July 16, the Mint’s Randolph Road and Uptown galleries will be closed on Tuesdays and hours will be trimmed the rest of the week. Both Mint locations are normally closed on Mondays.

In the fiscal year ending in June 2012, the latest for which data is available, the Mint had an annual payroll of $3.3 million, up 15 percent from the previous year. Overall, the city’s largest art museum has 47 full-time and 28 part-time employees.

Savings should be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, spokeswoman Leigh Dyer said.

In its latest annual report to the Internal Revenue Service, the Mint reported $6.3 million in revenue vs. $10 million in expenses for the year ending in June 2012. Investment income fell $1.6 million. Mint President Kathleen Jameson said Wednesday the expenses included depreciation on the Mint's uptown building, and changes in the Mint's endowment portfolio, which were not cash expenses. Overall, she said, the Mint showed a surplus of $121,657 for the year.

In 2009, when contributions to the Arts & Science Council fell by a third, the Mint closed on Sundays and raised admission fees. Sunday hours were restored by 2010, when the museum moved into its $60 million building on South Tryon Street.

Overall in Charlotte, financial support for the arts has been sagging because of the economy, downturns in workplace donations and other trends, arts leaders have said. One key barometer is a long-range look at Arts & Science Council campaigns: In 2012, the ASC raised $6.5 million, a 36 percent decline from 2002.

A cross-community task force began work in June to examine long-range solutions to provide financial support for the arts. Organized by the ASC, the Cultural Life Task Force is expected to spend the rest of the year looking at arts fund-raising in other cities and make recommendations for strategies in Charlotte.

Under its new schedule, the Mint will open an hour later most days. Its schedule will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Visitation was free on Tuesday nights; now Wednesday nights will be gratis. Dyer said cuts were made based on a study of the museum’s slowest hours.

Washburn: 704-358-5007.
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