Country Music Hall of Fame Lays Off / Furloughs Half of Staff

After being forced to close on March 13th due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and now extending their closure to at least June 30th, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has been forced to lay off 73 individuals, and furlough 101 more—roughly 44% of their staff of just under 400 employees. The staff moves take effect June 18th.

“We were forced to make this difficult decision by a challenging business environment unprecedented in the museum’s history,” said Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO Kyle Young. “Since closing March 13, the museum has lost millions of dollars in budgeted revenue. Our economic setbacks, coupled with the uncertainties of the future related to the pandemic, make it necessary to take these measures now to protect the institution and ensure its future.”

The layoffs come at what had been a steady era of growth for the Hall of Fame in both attendance and revenue. In 2019, the Hall of Fame set another attendance record welcoming 1,297,433 visitors to the museum—the 5th year in a row the museum topped the million visitor mark. The Hall of Fame made $40.7 million in 2018, mostly from ticket sales, but also from the facility’s catering and events business that rents out portions of the Hall of Fame complex. The Hall of Fame paid out $16.1 million in salaries and benefits to employees in 2018.

Along with the Hall of Fame itself, Hatch Show Print, the CMA Theater, and the Taylor Swift Education Center on the grounds have also been closed due to the pandemic, as has RCA Studio B on nearby Music Row managed by the institution.

The continued shutdown has also presented uncertainty behind when the new 2020 class for the Hall of Fame inductees will be announced. Usually announced in mid to late March in a press conference held in the Hall of Fame rotunda, the shutdown of the building has delayed the announcement indefinitely. Hall of Fame members are not selected by the Hall of Fame itself, but a select committee fielded by the CMA.

“Our friends at the Country Music Association are working on announcement plans in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Hall of Fame said recently. “Please know that we will communicate plans for the announcement as soon as we are able.”

Country Music Association CEO Sarah Trahern said to Billboard Country Update recently that the reveal of the new inductees will happen in “about a month or so.” And though it appears the 2020 inductees have already been selected, “Maybe they don’t all know,” she notes.

Announcing the 2020 class of Hall of Fame inductees might make for the perfect occasion to open up the Hall of Fame once again. Though the cautiousness is understandable, the Hall of Fame should be able to open up to take advantage of some of the summer tourist season, even if limiting capacity and promoting social distance guidelines is part of the protocols. For the remaining staff and the institution itself, it may depend on it.

READ: Country Music Hall of Fame Picks & Predictions for 2020

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