Meta Guts Open Arts’ Biggest Round of Layoffs, Its Art and Design Program
Last week’s streak of 11,000 layoffs at Meta appears to have been cleared Open Arts, the company’s art and design division, formerly known as Facebook Open Arts. Because Meta declined to comment for this story, it’s still unclear how big the department was before the layoffs, or how big the cuts were, but a deep dive on LinkedIn suggests it was in sort of a bloodbath.
“You may have heard that Meta laid off 11,000 people last week. Sadly, I was one of them. Like most of my (awesome) Open Arts organization,” wrote Matthew Israel, l Former Chief Curator of Open Arts. LinkedIn.
Rafael Flores, Head of Strategic Programs; and Anna Brümmer, Communications Manager, shared similar posts on the professional networking site. Based on the comments, it appears Open Arts has also let go Jennie Lamensdorf, Head of Partnerships; Dina Pugh, Head of Strategy and Operations; and Kristen Leung, head of strategic programs, who is moving to another division of the company.
The department retained its head, Tina Vaz, who joined the social media company in 2019 after a decade at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in New York, where she most recently served as Deputy Director of Global Communications. Scott Boms, a 10-year veteran of the company, is also staying on as Open Arts’ environmental design director.
” I remain your fangirl”.
Flores wasn’t the only one who followed Vaz from the Guggenheim to fall victim to Meta’s firings. Jae-eun Chung, head of design for Open Arts’ global design program, left the Guggenheim for Meta in June 2020, but also fell victim to the job cuts.
“Meta…taught me how to build the most awesome things with clear purpose, measurable impact while navigating ambiguity and building resilience,” she wrote on LinkedIn.
Most of the posts shared by departing employees reflected a positive experience at Open Arts and Meta as a whole, but there were also signs that suggested it could be a difficult working environment, especially recently.
“I learned real crisis management as the company lost significant market value in six months,” Israel wrote.
The Open Arts team works with artists to create large-scale works of art around the world, having installed nearly 1,000 site-specific works to date, both in the offices of the company and in public places. Over the years he has worked with artists such as Agnes Denes, Devan Shimoyama and Saya Woolfalk.
More recently, Meta unveiled new artist commissions both at its new Manhattan offices at Moynihan Station in August and at its new London headquarters at King’s Cross in September.
In his push to extend reach beyond its initial residency program at the Facebook offices, Open Arts had also supported other artistic projects, including new ICA San Franciscoto which he contributed $5.5 million, according to the Economist. (The department was looking to hire an order producer just two months ago, according to a Posting jobs on LinkedIn.)
Artnet News was unable to determine the exact size of the Open Arts department prior to the cuts. But a photo in Israel’s LinkedIn post shows 25 people (and a golden retriever) standing in front of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. There are at least seven LinkedIn profiles for current Open Arts employees — six of which are listed as curators — who have yet to comment on their professional status after the layoffs.
The staff cuts affected 13% of Meta’s total workforce, which previously numbered 87,000. Affected employees receive a minimum of 16 weeks of severance pay and six months of health care.
This is the first major round of layoffs in the company’s 18-year history. Meta’s stock has fallen more than 70% in 2022, Reality Labs, its new metaverse-focused division, would lose billions of dollars every quarter.
Despite the downturn in business and the larger economic downturn in the tech industry, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg remains optimistic about Meta’s future.
“I believe we are deeply underappreciated as a company today,” Zuckerberg said in a message to staff on the day of layoffs. “Our core business is one of the most profitable ever built with huge potential ahead. And we are at the forefront of developing technology to define the future of social login and the next platform computer science.
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