Tate Galleries to cut over 300 jobs across commercial enterprises

Tate Britain

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting drop in visitor numbers, the Tate has announced that it will cut 313 jobs across its commercial operation.

The commercial arm of the Tate galleries in the UK, including retail, catering and publishing operations, is to lose over 300 employees, according to an email to all staff from director Maria Balshaw.

The job losses include 313 part-time and full-time roles at Tate Enterprises Ltd. (TEL), which operates the shops, cafes, restaurants and publishing services at the Tate’s four sites in London, Liverpool and St. Ives. However, none of the gallery staff will be affected.

Balshaw’s email, first revealed by White Pube, and reported in The Guardian, says that, despite its best efforts, the Tate “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 business in line with future demand.”

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Job losses

Last week Tate Enterprises staff in the PCS union voted to take industrial action, which could mean that over 100 team members could go on strike from 18 August. They are also worried that these cuts may have a disproportionate effect on black and minority ethnic staff. This concern was addressed by Balshaw in the email, saying:

“First of all, it is important to say that we do not yet know the outcome until selection processes are completed. However, it is likely that the proportion of BAME colleagues across Tate Enterprises will remain broadly the same at the end of the process.”

The PCS union believes that the cuts are unnecessary, given that the Tate will receive a £7 million share of the government’s £1.57 billion recovery package. But Balshaw says that the Tate has already given TEL £5 million from its reserves to cover losses and ensure the future of the business: “As well as this, Tate Gallery could have expected to receive at least £5m in income from TEL over the course of the year and this will now be lost.”

Museums in the UK have been allowed to reopen since 4 July, with extra safety measures in place to safeguard against the spread of COVID-19.