Schaumburg laying off 26 Prairie Center for the Arts staffers

  • The village of Schaumburg will lay off nearly all the staff of the Al Larson Prairie Center for the Arts on its municipal campus due to the pandemic's ongoing effect on public gatherings.

    The village of Schaumburg will lay off nearly all the staff of the Al Larson Prairie Center for the Arts on its municipal campus due to the pandemic's ongoing effect on public gatherings. Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Updated 7/17/2020 7:54 PM

The village of Schaumburg will lay off nearly all the staff of its cultural services department working out of the Al Larson Prairie Center for the Arts until at least January due to the COVID-19 pandemic's lingering impact on public gatherings.

"In essence, we have a facility that is unusable for the foreseeable future," Mayor Tom Dailly said. "It's a terrible thing to do, but we're faced with a building that isn't being used."

 

The administrative decision was made last month at the same time as the cancellation of Septemberfest. But the 26 affected employees were given 30 days' notice before the layoffs take effect next Thursday.

Eight of the employees are full time, while the rest work part time. The only members of the cultural services department who will remain on duty are Director Jack Netter and an administrative assistant.

Village Administrator Brian Townsend said the hope is to bring the entire staff back in six months to work on programming for 2021. Those laid off will retain their health care benefits until then. They also will be able to cash in any unused vacation days or accrued time off.

Employees could be recalled sooner if the state moves into Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois plan earlier than expected, he added.

The six-month shutdown of the Prairie Center, coupled with the cancellation of Septemberfest, is expected to save the village $1.1 million, Townsend said.

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Even before the village's decision, the Schaumburg Dance Ensemble canceled the 2020 holiday performances of "The Nutcracker" at the Prairie Center, Dailly said.

One of the goals of the village's 2020-21 budget adopted in April was to avoid staff layoffs as long as possible, while remaining open to any steps made necessary by the pandemic and the monthly $4 million loss of sales tax it was causing at that time.

These are the only layoffs the village has made as a result of the pandemic so far, and no others are currently pending, Dailly said.

The only scheduled special event of the village through the end of the year that remains even a possibility is the tree-lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27, in the plaza outside the Prairie Center, he said.

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