On Thursday, January 21, 2021, the Museum of Contemporary Art–Chicago (MCA) laid off 41 staff members, ranging from full-time to part-time and across departments. These layoffs come after months of institutional unrest between staff and museum leadership, sparked by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing calls for racial justice. Thursday’s layoffs are in addition to the nearly 30 people who were forced out of their positions over the summer, many after publicly denouncing  the museum’s white supremacist practices.

We, a group of laid-off former MCA workers, are disheartened that museum leadership made these decisions and we are organizing ourselves to support those who lost their positions. Money that is raised will help support former MCA staff during this transitional time. In particular, we hope that these funds will make it easier for laid-off MCA workers to avoid signing "separation agreements" in order to access severance pay (which amounts to less than $200 for some part-time workers) and to thus enable these individuals to retain their right to free speech that is in opposition to the institution. We want to encourage museum professionals to speak against hypocrisy, virtue-signaling neoliberal claims, and racist models, and to feel empowered to change the institution.  

We are seeking to raise $30,000 by February 15th. Anyone who has been laid off or forced out of work by the MCA since March 2020 can request a portion of these funds (using this request form, also by February 15th). Due to the sudden nature of these layoffs and colleagues’ emergency needs, we are expediting our funding cycle with attention to the MCA’s payroll dates and “separation agreement” deadlines. Our priorities in disbursing funds will be to support those with highest need, with acknowledgment that these intersecting pandemics have most directly impacted BIPOC individuals and communities, as well as part-time workers. 

Additionally, we recognize these pandemics have impacted arts organizations beyond the MCA. During the time since the above layoffs were made public, arts workers across the U.S. have reached out to stand in solidarity and share their own very similar stories. If we have surplus funds after fulfilling requests, we will re-donate those funds to another group that is supporting other laid-off arts workers. 

Please donate to this GoFundMe by February 15th.

Former MCA staff should request funds by February 15th, using this form.

We hope to disburse funds by the end of February 2021.

ADDENDUM (posted 2/19/2021):

Once the GoFundMe fees  have been deducted, ALL remaining funds will be disbursed, as monetary gifts, directly to past MCA workers who have been laid off or forced out of work by the MCA, including former staff of the museum and non-“staff” workers such as those from the museum’s restaurant and custodial services.

The fundraiser’s organizers (former MCA workers and members of MCAccountable) invited these fellow former MCA workers to request funds using an online form. A small group of us organizers are reviewing the submitted requests and will gift as close to the requested amounts as possible within the total fundraised amount. We will then contact each requester individually to communicate the amount that will be gifted and to request that recipient’s information for their preferred payment app (between Cash App, PayPal, Venmo, and Zelle). We will disburse directly to those individuals, using those apps. After all funds have been disbursed, this GoFundMe will be closed.

The MCA Layoff Relief Fund / MCAccountable is not a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

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Donations (357)

  • Lauren Brick
    • $40 
    • 3 yrs
  • Doug Stapleton
    • $50 
    • 3 yrs
  • Roger White
    • $50 
    • 3 yrs
  • Audrey Peiper
    • $100 
    • 3 yrs
  • Kenneth S Vandermark
    • $25 
    • 3 yrs

Organizer and beneficiary

MCA Accountable
Chicago, IL
Marcela Torres

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