The V&A plans to make 103 retail and visitor experience staff redundant, which amounts to approximately 10 percent of its overall workforce, due to “the ongoing impact of COVID-19”.
Job losses in other departments are set to follow, and the process is designed to reduce costs by £10 million annually to combat “the most significant financial challenge” in the V&A’s history.
The V&A’s statement on redundancy consultations states that the museum is “entering into a period of collective consultation on proposed redundancies”.
The V&A says this is “a very difficult decision made as a result of the ongoing impact of COVID-19” and that it “would have been unimaginable at the start of year”.
It attributes the redundancies to five months of closure, a collapse in the tourism market, and reduced audience capacity and demand.
These have “severely impaired” the V&A’s ability to self-generate income. Visitor numbers are currently down by 85 percent, with the V&A anticipating its financial recovery to “take several years”.
The museum is “facing the very real prospect that we might never return to the level of visitation and associated income we were able to generate pre-COVID-19”.
V&A visitor numbers are currently down by 85%
This would have been unimaginable at the start of 2020. We have already made a range of savings since March, but with capacity and visitor numbers significantly down & the collapse of commercial income, we estimate that our recovery will take several years.
— V&A (@V_and_A) September 29, 2020
The V&A has taken various steps to reduce costs amid COVID-19, including cancelling or postponing its public programme and reopening the museum in phases.
It also furloughed the majority of its workforce, implemented a recruitment freeze, cancelled all staff bonuses, cut operational budgets and reduced its opening hours.
However, it has been left with “no choice but the review our operations and reduce the scale of our organisation, as part of ongoing efforts to reduce costs by at least £10m annually”.
The review process will involve staff at all levels across every department, and will take place in phases over the next 6 to 9 months.
The collective consultation process will begin in October. The restructuring proposals include a reduction of 85 full-time equivalents across retail and the visitor experience, which equates to 103 roles, or 10 percent of the V&A’s headcount.
V&A to reduce costs by £10 million annually
Very sadly we have no choice but to take further steps. We'll be working closely with TU & staff reps to go through the consultation as fairly & openly as possible. Thank you to the outstanding staff at the V&A & all those who support us at this very challenging time.
— V&A (@V_and_A) September 29, 2020
Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A, said: “The V&A started 2020 with huge hopes for the year ahead, following three of the most successful years in our history.
“In order to secure the V&A’s survival and prepare for the challenging years ahead, it is with great sadness that we are now forced to enter into consultation on proposed redundancies across the V&A.
“Every colleague plays a vital role in the success of the V&A – their creativity and expertise are unparalleled, and the loss of their institutional knowledge will be felt for years to come.
“We will do everything we can to consult on openly and transparently, to support our staff community during this exceptionally difficult time, and to rebuild the V&A once more.”
The V&A and the Smithsonian Institution also announced that they are shelving a plan to co-curate a gallery at V&A East “in the context of the effects of COVID-19”.
Disney Parks, Experiences and Products has shared an update saying Disney will lay off around 28,000 employees due to the prolonged impact of COVID-19.