Tate Will Cut Another 120 Employees as It Works to Get Out From Under Budgetary Pressures

The Tate has already eliminated 295 positions throughout the year.

Tate Britain. Photo courtesy of the Tate.
Tate Britain. Photo courtesy of the Tate.

For the second time this year, the Tate is cutting jobs—120 of them, or about 12 percent of the institution’s overall workforce.

The staffing reduction comes as the museum faces an expected loss of £56 million ($75.3 million) in self-generated income—or about 60 percent less than expected—due to closures for almost half of 2020.

The institution reopened yesterday as the UK emerged from its second period of lockdown this year. It is projecting just one million annual visitors by the end of the year, down from an expected eight million.

In light of the mounting financial losses caused by the extended shut down, the Tate Gallery is looking to save £4.8 million ($6.4 million) with the job cuts, according to the Art Newspaper.

The scheme is a voluntary one, and is open to employees in all departments. As public employees, workers will be compensated according to the UK’s Civil Service Compensation Scheme. “Tate is also being as open as possible to different kinds of request in response to individual circumstances, including early retirement, reduced working hours and career breaks,” a museum representative told Artnet News in an email.

PCS union workers on strike at the Tate. Photo courtesy of PCS.

PCS union workers on strike at the Tate. Photo courtesy of PCS.

“Reducing the size of our workforce is a course of action we take with huge reluctance. The knowledge, experience, and passion of our colleagues across Tate is at the heart of our success and is hugely valued,” Maria Balshaw, Tate’s director, and Vicky Cheetham, its chief operating officer, said in a joint statement.

“We, nevertheless, have no choice,” they said, adding that “to survive this crisis… we cannot rule out having to move to compulsory redundancy in 2021 to meet the necessary level of reductions.”

“This is awful news for all those working at Tate,” Alan Leighton, national secretary of the Prospect trade union, which represents some museum employees, said in a statement. “Prospect is working with the employer to ensure the best possible terms for those who do lose their jobs and we hope compulsory redundancies can be avoided. Voluntary redundancies are still redundancies however, and everyone working in the heritage sector and across the wider tourist economy will be hugely concerned about their jobs for the foreseeable future.”

“Should the need arise, we will of course vigorously oppose any compulsory program,” Steven Warwick, cultural group secretary of PCS, another Tate union, said in an email to Artnet News. “The fact that Tate feel they must cut 120 jobs in order to survive is yet another demonstration of the government’s failure to protect our world-leading culture sector.”

PCS union workers on strike at the Tate. Photo by Richard Okon courtesy of PCS.

PCS union workers on strike at the Tate. Photo by Richard Okon courtesy of PCS.

The Tate received plaudits as shutdowns began in March for committing to paying all employees through the end of April. But as the full financial impact of the shut down became apparent, the Tate’s commercial arm, Tate Enterprises Ltd., cut the equivalent of 217 full-time jobs. Altogether, 295 individuals have thus far lost their jobs, half of which were voluntary redundancies.

The layoffs prompted union member protests outside Tate Modern in London as it reopened in late July. In August, Tate members of the PCS union responded by launching a 42-day strike, protesting the cuts to the lowest-paid staffers.

“With tourism not expected to return to previous levels until 2024/25, and the wider economy facing the long-term effects [of lockdown],” Balshaw and Cheetham warned, “the road to recovery will be a long one.”


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