Meta Layoffs Reportedly Target Arts Team as Thousands Are LetGo

A large part of Meta’s Open Arts team was reportedly let go in the mass layoffs at Meta last week that saw 11,000 people cut from the company, according to Artnet News.

Because Meta has not responded to requests for comment, it is unclear how much of the team has been cut, but there is confirmation of at least seven layoffs.

“You may have heard that Meta laid off 11,000 people last week. I was unfortunately one of them,” wrote Matthew Israel, former Commissions Lead at Open Arts, in a LinkedIn post.

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According to communications on LinkedIn, it appears that Rafael Flores, the strategic programs manager; Anna Brümmer, the communications manager; Jennie Lamensdorf, partnerships lead; Dina Pugh, lead of strategy and operations; and Kristen Leung, the strategic programs manager, were taken off the team. Tina Vaz, the head of the department, appears to remain in her position.

Vaz left the Guggenheim, where she served as deputy director of global communications, to take this position at Meta in 2019.

The layoffs follow the news that Meta’s third-quarter income dropped by more than 50 percent, leading the company to make the decision to let go around 13 percent of its workforce.

The Open Arts team is the design and art branch of Meta. Founded in 2010, it was originally termed Facebook Open Arts. The team was in charge of commissioning artists for their offices; stewarded Meta’s art collection, which includes more than 1,000 site specific pieces; and supported art and tech collaborations for product development in the realm of VR, AR, AI, and NFTs.

Just this August, the Open Arts team announced a group of massive artist commissions for Meta’s new offices in New York. Baseera Khan, Timur Si-Qin, Esteban Cabeza de Baca and Heidi Howard, Liz Collins, and Matthew Kirk were among selected to do these projects.

Meanwhile, Meta’s Reality Labs department, which heads metaverse projects (including VR and AR product development), has been largely spared from the layoffs, despite reports that the department is hemorrhaging money. According to Business Insider, Meta spent $10.8 billion on Reality Labs in the first nine months of 2022; the department only brought in $1.4 billion during the same period.

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