London’s Victoria and Albert Museum set to cut at least 103 jobs to ‘ensure its survival’, director says

The Blavatnik Hall, Victoria & Albert Museum, London Courtesy of V&A

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London has announced that it is consulting staff on job cuts, with 10% of the workforce facing redundancy. The redundancy proposal is for 103 roles in retail and visitor experience, with job losses to follow in other departments. The cuts are part of plans to cover the financial losses incurred due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The museum's director Tristram Hunt says in a statement that the measures are needed to “secure the V&As survival and prepare for the challenging years ahead”. The institution needs to make savings of £10m annually and will conduct a review across all departments over the next nine months.

“The restructuring proposals include a reduction of 85 full-time equivalents across both teams [retail and visitor experience], which equates to 103 roles or 10% of the V&As overall headcount. Final decisions will be made once the consultation is complete,” says a museum statement.

"What will happen in 2021? We are all in the dark about the coming fiscal year"

The collapse in tourism and social distancing requirements in the wake of Covid-19 has caused a slump in museums' self-generated income through ticket sales, retail and corporate hire. “The V&A is in its worst financial position on record. Were seeing a drop of almost 70% of our self-generated revenue, alongside an 85% drop in visitor figures,” a museum spokeswoman adds.

The V&A turned to emergency support from the government, “but unfortunately this only supports us for this financial year and not beyond March 2021”. The issue of what happens once government funding runs out is a cause of concern for the sector however. “What will happen in 2021? The emergency money this year has been a godsend, but we are all in the dark about the coming fiscal year,” says a UK cultural leader who wishes to remain anonymous.

The museum says it has taken steps to mitigate the impact of coronavirus such as cancelling all staff bonuses and reducing opening hours to five days a week. But the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) criticised the museums position, saying that the “managements decision to immediately enter a consultation for compulsory redundancy for front of house workers, while running a voluntary-only redundancy scheme for all other departments, is a direct attack on the most diverse and some of the lowest paid workers at the museRead More – Source