Staff cuts: are museums protecting their workers?


Hello it's the weekend. I'm Ben League. This week as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown hit museums. We're seeing unprecedented layoffs on both sides of the Atlantic. We ask our museums doing all. They can to save their star. We've already discussed the future of museums after covid nineteen on the weekend, but only now is it becoming clear the scale of the financial burden of the pandemic and the effects on the people who work at the museum's. We'll look at the latest developments in the UK, and the US where hundreds of museum workers are losing. Their jobs will also took to Emily Butler from the White Chapel Gallery, which is just reopened for this episodes work of the week. Before we begin a reminder that you can read the art newspaper anywhere anytime with our iphone and IPAD APP. visit the APP store search for the art newspaper, and then you can install for. Yep, if you're a subscriber, only at content is available as part of your subscription. Now, to museum layoffs, Hannah mcgibbon is the museum's editor at the newspaper and she joins me now to discuss the situation at US and UK Museums Hannah before we talk about layoffs and job losses. Can we talk about the financial peril? The museums find themselves in. You've had conversations with lots of museum directors recently. Can you give a sort of idea of the scope of? The financial trouble they're in. I think it's clear that any museum. The earns a significant portion of its income, so self generates that income from visitors buying tickets, and from spending money in the cafe or buying things in the gift shop. All of that income has been wiped out by the enforce closures which have of dragged on for several months. During the lockdown periods, so that has been an enormous loss and we know that many museums don't have huge financial reserves. To kind of plug that gap, and in the meantime they still got high fixed costs. They've got run their buildings. They've got to protect their collections and staff is is a big outlay as well. Right and and just so the we can give the listeners sort of general idea. But obviously museums are all individual institutions. They have particular radio. Think Christie's etc, but it's fair to say that the US and the UK which we are predominantly focusing on today do have a particular reliance on money coming in from those sources right in a way that some European countries don't yes I mean the tradition in European countries is for heavily subsidized. Organizations and that has provided. A cushion during this pandemic, whereas in the UK we know the over the past decade there's been a retreat of public funding Fiat say. The government is still subsidizing the big national museums, but the proportion The grenade makes up of the overall budget has been falling in real terms when you adjust for inflation. And it does vary across the different museums in that category. And then in the US, the situation is even more extreme, because obviously there is no tradition of public funding for museums. There say they are heavily reliant on self generated income, but also on private philanthropy, which has which has been affected in its own way, and from endowment income as well. Roy Moore come to those in a moment, so we're gonNA start. By talking. Talking about the US the US as you say, is, in an extremely perilous situation, precisely, because in there is a lot more public funding, even in the UK give us a couple of examples of the way that museums have been affected in the US for instance. The met is obviously always seen as a kind of standard bearer. The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York. How is that been affected? For instance? Yeah, and the mets came out very quickly. I think it was march or April with the projections of the shortfall for this fiscal year, which which already ended at the end of June and the next one. and. They were saying hundred million dollar shortfall, and that's compared to their annual operating budget, three hundred twenty million dollars. They're obviously one of the biggest museums, if not the biggest museum. That's two thousand two hundred staff members. Were on that books before the pandemic and that. Cost. The payroll cost is estimated at over sixty five percent of the annual budget, so we spoke to Daniel. On the cost in April and that actually just. Had that conversation then some job losses renounced. Has the metropolitan. Museum said? How many jobs are going? Yes, so in late April. They announced the eighty one staff members in the visitor. Services and retail departments would be laid off. And that was with with the caveat that more could well follow. The separately. They will also cutting executive pay. They were freezing new hires, and they were redirecting money that would have gone into programming and acquisitions into operating costs to shore up. That deficit. So, eighty one, but with more expected to follow. Now on the West Coast of San Francisco Museum of modern. It's actually there's been a huge amount.

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