Sunday, August 09, 2020

Job losses at major art galleries

Staff working in the 'art' side of major museums in the UK seem to be surviving Covid-19. Those working in the trading arms appear to be not so lucky. 

Some of the strategies being employed to allow art galleries and museums to live within their means seem a bit crude at present - and, in my opinion, there needs to be rather more business 'nous' employed in my option.

This is a tweet by the union representing the staff at Tate Enterprises Ltd - the commercial subsidiary, which operates retail, publishing and catering within the galleries - following a socially distanced demonstration will take place outside Tate Modern at the end of July.

I'm left wondering whether the Head of Coffee - on a salary which exceeded that of curators of art at the Museums(!) - will be on the list of those whose jobs may be for the chop.  (READ my post from January 2020: Next time stop and think before you have a coffee at the Tate)

To be honest - if it were staff in Conservation (which requires training for jobs with limited opportunities) who faced the prospect of losing their jobs I'd be very concerned. However the trading arm does NOT exist without the reason why the art galleries and museums exist. Jobs in catering also crop up rather more frequently than jobs for conservation staff or curators.

While it's always sad that anybody loses their jobs through no fault of their own, let's keep a proper perspective on this. 

  • It's a lot more sad for people who are losing their lives during the pandemic and 
  • there is going to be a major structural shakeout with respect to how organisations are run in future - and there's no guarantee that ANYTHING will ever go back to being the same as before.
  • If more cuts in spend are needed, and I were in charge:
    • I think I'd be very inclined to start with all those earning a salary of over £35k - right up to the Director - with the percentage cuts increasing as salaries increase.  
    • That would enable more people to remain employed and reduce those who would need to claim benefits. 

More about the job losses

These articles tell you more about the consultation about the need to cut back on staffing due to the anticipated decreased level of trade at the Galleries.

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