Union highlights devastating cuts

Report from Prospect shows morale among museum staff is at an all-time low
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Simon Stephens
Budget cuts are having a devastating impact on museum, galleries and heritage sites, according to a report published by the Prospect union based on a survey of its members.

“Members fear the sector is close to reaching tipping point,” says Heritage in a Cold Climate. “Members fear the current losses of jobs and skills will be more keenly felt in the future, when it is too late to do anything about them."

Prospect represents more than 6,000 heritage professionals who work as curators, archaeologists, conservators, museum and gallery assistants. Museums with Prospect members include Imperial War Museum, Museum of London, National Gallery, National Galleries of Scotland, National Museums Liverpool, Tate and the three national museums in South Kensington. Nearly 900 people responded to the survey.

The report says that the functions most severely affected by public spending cuts are:

  • recruitment.
  • professional development.
  • academic or historical research.
  • conservation.
  • the restoration and upkeep of built heritage sites.

Heritage in a Cold Climate also highlighted the effect of budget cuts at specific museums.

The report says that since 2010 National Museums Liverpool’s direct funding from government has been cut by 28% in real terms. The impact includes the loss of 90 posts (from 510 to 420).

Prospect also says there have been redundancies at the Museum of London, Royal Museums Greenwich and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Funding cuts at Tate have led to a reduction in programming, jobs and services to the public.

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