Royal Academy consults on cutting 150 jobs

Institution says it needs to reduce annual costs by £8m due to ‘severe financial pressure’
Covid-19 redundancy Workforce
Jonathan Knott
The Royal Academy of Arts
The Royal Academy of Arts Ollios - CC BY-SA 3.0

London’s Royal Academy of Arts (RA) is consulting on cutting 150 jobs, amounting to 40% of its workforce.

The gallery told staff yesterday that it would be entering a period of collective consultation, which it says will affect “all areas and levels of the organisation”.

A statement from the RA said it needed to reduce its annual costs by £8m due to the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The gallery said: “As an independent charity, the RA does not receive funding from government and is wholly reliant on ticket sales, Friends membership, commercial activities, donors, patrons and sponsors. Covid-19 has placed the RA under severe financial pressure.

“Although the RA reopened to the public as soon as possible following the easing of lockdown, social distancing reduces capacity and revenue by 75%, and we continue to incur substantial losses. This will be the situation for the foreseeable future and the impact of Covid-19 will be felt for several years ahead.”

It added: “The staff of the RA are one of its greatest assets. However, the cost of staff represents the greatest proportion of RA expenditure by far. Regretfully, this means that the majority of the £8m task will have to come from salaries.”

Axel Rüger, the secretary and chief executive of the RA, said: “For over 250 years, the Royal Academy has championed artists and architects and inspired visitors. This pandemic has placed us under critical financial pressure. Our staff are incredibly dedicated and passionate about working at the RA; it is therefore with great regret that we confirm roles are at risk, but our focus must be on protecting the survival of the RA.”

A spokesperson for the RA said that it had applied for a grant from the UK government’s Culture Recovery Fund and was waiting to hear whether it had been successful.


The RA’s announcement follows news of other large-scale redundancy plans in the museum and heritage sector, including at the National Trust, Southbank Centre, Tate, Birmingham Museums Trust and Historic Royal Palaces.

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