As the United Kingdom emerges from its second lockdown, Tate announced a plan to cut 120 full-time jobs at its London galleries through voluntary redundancies. According to the museum’s management, workers across all departments are being encouraged to accept offers for early retirement, reduced working hours, or a career break.
The museum says that the voluntary redundancies, which would amount to 12% of its workforce, are meant to save £4.8 million (~$6.5 million) in expenses to help cope with the financial damages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This new round of redundancies is separate from the planned reduction of 313 jobs at Tate Enterprises, the museum’s commercial arm. Workers at Tate’s shops, cafes, and restaurants responded to the August announcement with weeks of strike and protests, backed by hundreds of artists who called on the museum to reverse its decision in an open letter.
“We now need to do what so many others in our sector are doing, which is to reduce the overall size of Tate Gallery’s workforce,” Tate’s director, Maria Balshaw, said in a statement to the Guardian.
Balshaw warned that additional workforce reductions might be imminent. “We hope that this voluntary process will help us make these significant savings,” she said, “but we cannot rule out having to move to compulsory redundancy in 2021 to meet the necessary level of reductions.”
Tate reports that its admission numbers are expected to reach around one million this year, instead of the eight million predicted before the pandemic. “For every £10 we were expecting to make this year, we are only receiving £4, and we expect to lose £56m in self-generated income overall,” the museum’s statement said.
“Reducing the size of our workforce is a course of action we take with huge reluctance,” Tate’s statement added. “The knowledge, experience and passion of our colleagues across Tate is at the heart of our success and is hugely valued. We nevertheless have no choice given the impact of the pandemic on our finances.”