Newport Harbor Board Votes to Cut Budget 9% : Art: Museum board president says consumers will not notice the reductions, with no change in prices or hours.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

As retrenching efforts continue, Newport Harbor Art Museum's board of directors voted Thursday night to reduce its 1992-93 operating budget by 9% in an effort to cope with an accumulated deficit of $768,702 and a sluggish economy.

The scaled-down, $1.53-million budget reflects savings of about $280,000 from layoffs of nine staff members earlier this year. A spokeswoman for the museum said no further staff cuts for the coming year are "envisioned or mandated" by the budget.

Additionally, the board received its first look at a strategic planning report, which reaffirmed the museum's mission of collecting post-World War II California art, but which also included one significant change. The report redefines Newport Harbor's primary audience as Orange County rather than Southern California as a whole.

The museum's operating budget for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1, does not include funding for exhibitions. A Newport Harbor spokeswoman explained that the projected 1992-93 exhibit budget--$364,500 for 12 shows--depends on fully funding each exhibit before scheduling it. The 1991-92 budget provided $244,000 for eight exhibits--virtually the same amount per show as in the new budget.

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In a prepared statement, board president Joan F. Beall said: "We have created a budget which is as conservative as we could (make it) and which continues the high level of exhibitions and programs . . . The consumer won't see any differences.

"We're not reducing hours; we're not raising prices; we're not reducing the number of exhibitions. We will continue a full program of tours for schoolchildren, free (admission on) Tuesdays, and adults' and kids' art classes . . . "

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Five-year goals listed in the planning report include expanding and remodeling the museum's facility and using satellite locations to expand outreach. The report was drawn up last summer during a two-day retreat involving an 18-member group of trustees and staff members.

The report, however, made no mention of the museum's proposed expansion into the adjacent Newport Beach Central Library building, a plan outlined in documents filed earlier this year with the California Arts Council.

By fall 1993, the library will move to a $14-million building under construction at MacArthur Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway. There was no discussion at the board meeting about the library proposal.

Longtime plans to build a $40-million museum on a 10.5-acre site owned by the Irvine Co. were indefinitely postponed in January because of the recession.

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