Thousands of job cuts in UK museums

The Royal Collections Trust, which notably handles tours of Buckingham Palace, pictured here on October 3, is considering downsizing.

Tate Modern’s big Andy Warhol exhibit should have been crowded. With such a staple name in pop culture, London’s iconic Thames Edge Museum was sure to fill up. But due to the pandemic, the visit has never been so comfortable. On this Saturday afternoon at the end of September, the crowd is limited to enforce social distancing. Reserving a seat is mandatory and the museum accepts about half as many people as usual.

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In front of the entrance swept by an icy wind, a group of demonstrators welcomes visitors. “The coronavirus is no reason to fire us. Shame on the Tate! “, denounces a panel. Employees of the museum’s shops and restaurants have been on strike since late August. The cultural institution announced in August the removal of 313 employees of Tate Enterprises, its commercial arm. 1er October, the social movement was suspended, unions and management agreeing to enter into negotiations, but no compromise has yet been found. “Usually, the Tate likes to put forward its progressive values, and told us before the pandemic that we were a big family, notes, bitterly, one of the strikers who prefers to keep his name. But as soon as there are problems, we are the ones who pay, while the management keeps its big salaries. “

Even the castles

The Tate is the symbol of a ravaged museum and monument sector in the United Kingdom. Thursday, October 8, National Trust, august association which deals with more than 500 castles, historical monuments and natural places, announced 500 redundancies and 800 voluntary departures out of a workforce of some 10,000 people. The Victoria & Albert Museum, devoted to design, must cut around 100 jobs, or 10% of its workforce. Historic Royal Palaces, which notably manages the Tower of London, will reduce its workforce by 145 positions.

“King Henry VIII was cutting off heads, now they want to cut our jobs and our pensions. The Queen did not comment.

We must add the eight museums which the city of Liverpool takes care of (a hundred jobs less), those of York (still a hundred), Birmingham (still a hundred) … The Royal Academy (150 jobs, or 40 % of staff) and Southbank Center, a concert hall and gallery complex (400 jobs) do the same.

Even the castles of the royal family are not spared. The Royal Collections Trust, which deals in particular with tours of Buckingham Palace, is consulting to reduce its staff. In Windsor, where the Queen lives most of the year, nearly 200 positions are at stake. On September 9, the very worthy employees organized the most English and polite of social movements: a silent demonstration in front of the castle, in uniforms and masks on the face. Despite everything, a sorrowful spirit allowed itself an annoyed sign: “King Henry VIII was cutting off heads, now they want to cut our jobs and our pensions. Loyalty goes both ways. “ The Queen did not comment.

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