Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (c) JimmyGuano via Wikicommons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Birmingham Museums Trust begins redundancy consultations

Jonathan Knott, 27.07.2020
Around half of staff are at risk of losing their jobs
Birmingham Museums Trust (BMT) has begun redundancy consultations and is warning that around half of its 200 staff are at risk of losing their jobs.

The museum trust says it needs to cut costs in order to withstand the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

It normally generates about 60% of its income through tickets and commercial activity, but its eight sites have yet to reopen after lockdown.

A statement from BMT said: “It is with regret that Birmingham Museums Trust has entered a period of redundancy consultations as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Around half of our staff have been placed at risk of redundancy.”

It added: “The loss of income from our cafes, shops, tickets and other commercial activity is unsustainable. We have been enterprising, secured what funding and support we can, and have reduced our costs, but we now need to cut back further and this is how we have reached the painful decision to consult staff about redundancies.”

Niels de Vos, the chair of the museum trust, said: “Birmingham Museums Trust is a not-for-profit organisation without large reserves. Since April a large proportion of our staff have been furloughed and with this scheme coming to an end, we sadly can’t save everyone’s jobs. Only when visitor numbers and spend return to pre-coronavirus levels will our business model break even again.

"We desperately want to avoid redundancies, but we must do what we can to secure the future of the charity so that Birmingham Museums can be back open to inspire, educate and entertain the people of this great city once again.”

He added: “Our staff are the heart of organisation, they care deeply about what they do and are always keen to share their infectious enthusiasm for culture, heritage and science with others. We are proud of what Birmingham Museums Trust has achieved thanks to our dedicated staff, and how they have adapted during this very challenging time. Those affected have been contacted and no final decisions on redundancies will be made until the consultation process has been completed.”

BMT receives public funding from Birmingham City Council and Arts Council England (ACE) as a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO). It says it is in discussions with these funders and will make its case for funding from the government’s £1.57bn support package for the cultural sector.

The trust was recently unsuccessful in applying for support from ACE’s emergency fund designed to help its NPOs survive the immediate impact of the pandemic. It has generated £33,000 through an ongoing public fundraising campaign.

BMT employed more than 200 people in 2018-19, who worked hours equivalent to about 180 full-time staff.

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