Tate has announced it is making 313 redundancies in its commercial operations, Tate Enterprises, including at its bookshops and publishing branch.
An email to staff, leaked online, from director Maria Balshaw and c.o.o. Vicky Cheetham, was sent on Tuesday announcing the job cuts at Tate Enterprises, due to be finalised by mid-September. The figure represents more than half of the commercial branch's employees.
Referring to “painful and difficult decisions”, the email said: “While we have done everything we could to save as many jobs as possible, we simply cannot afford to keep employing as many colleagues as previously. The long-term drop in visitor numbers we are expecting for the foreseeable future, and the consequent loss of revenue, have left us no option but to resize our businesses in line with future demand.”
Members of the PCS union voted last week to take industrial action over the “unnecessary and damaging” plans, arguing they should not take place when £7m has been earmarked for the Tate from the government's £1.57bn emergency funding package for the cultural sector.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Tate management need to recognise the strength of feeling amongst staff who face the prospect of unemployment.
Tate Enterprises directors Hamish Anderson and Carmel Allen said: “Tate Enterprises Ltd, Tate’s commercial subsidiary, has had to make the difficult decision that many businesses in the hospitality and retail sectors now face, to restructure its business because of the impact of the pandemic. We have been supported by Tate Gallery with an allocation of £5 million from their reserves. However, this funding cannot meet the gap in income due to heavily reduced visitor numbers in the galleries.
"We have worked hard and exhaustively, to model as optimistically as we can for the future and to keep as many jobs as possible. We regret that, following collective consultation, we will have to make 313 redundancies in Tate Enterprises Ltd. The selection process across these roles will take place over the coming weeks. It is with great sadness that we have been forced by the current circumstances to have to make these decisions. We recognise how difficult this must be for our colleagues and aim to be as supportive as we can while still ensuring the future of the business."