V&A kicks off major restructure

Museum estimates recovery will take several years
Covid-19 redundancy
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Rebecca Atkinson
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V&A Reopening. Photographer Trisan Fewings
V&A Reopening. Photographer Trisan Fewings Getty

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London has started a major restructure across all departments, with 103 roles likely to be cut from its retail and visitor experience teams in the first phase – equal to 10% of the museum’s overall headcount.

The process, which is expected to take six to nine months, is part of efforts to reduce costs by at least £10m annually going forwards. The museum says it is “facing the most significant financial challenge in its history” as a result of Covid-19, with visitor figures down by 85% and likely to remain severely depressed for some time.

“We anticipate that our financial recovery will take several years, and are facing the very real prospect that we might never return to the level of visitation and associated income we were able to generate pre-Covid,” the V&A said in a statement.

Before the pandemic forced it to close its doors in March, the national museum generated 55% of its annual turnover through ticket sales, membership, retail and corporate hire. It says it has taken several measures to reduce costs, including furloughing the majority of staff under the government’s Job Retention Scheme, cancelling bonuses, freezing recruitment and cutting operational budgets. It reopened on 6 August with reduced hours of five days a week.

“In order to secure the V&A’s survival and prepare for the challenging years ahead, it is with great sadness that we are now forced to enter into consultation on proposed redundancies across the V&A,” said Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A .

“Every colleague plays a vital role in the success of the V&A – their creativity and expertise are unparalleled, and the loss of their institutional knowledge will be felt for years to come. We will do everything we can to consult openly and transparently, to support our staff community during this exceptionally difficult time, and to rebuild the V&A once more.”

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