V&A latest UK cultural institution to enter redundancy consultation

Image: The Exhibition Road Quarter at the V&A. Photograph courtesy of Hufton+Crow

Having been placed in a situation it says would have been “unimaginable at the start of year”, the V&A has confirmed that losing staff in all departments will be reviewed in the coming six to nine months. This is part of ongoing efforts to reduce running costs by £10 million per year.

Proposals include losing 85 full time equivalent roles, equating to 103 jobs or 10% of the V&A’s overall workforce. A Voluntary Options scheme, open to all employees across the museum, is also among plans up for consideration.

“The V&A started 2020 with huge hopes for the year ahead, following three of the most successful years in our history. These deeply difficult decisions would have been unimaginable then, but Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the V&A, our finances and the cultural sector more widely,” says Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A, speaking on behalf of the Executive Board and Trustees.

“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. 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 on openly and transparently, to support our staff community during this exceptionally difficult time, and to rebuild the V&A once more.”

Since 2017, the V&A had steadily built self-generated income up to account for 55% of annual turnover. Closure due to the pandemic, the collapse of the in-bound and domestic tourism, and reduced audience capacity since reopening has undone this work.

The organisation says it has taken “every step to reduce costs and mitigate the impact of Covid-19”, including cancelling or postponing large sections of its public programme, implementing a recruitment freeze, cancelling all staff bonuses, cutting operational budgets and reducing opening hours to five days a week.

The V&A also “took full advantage of the Government’s Job Retention Scheme” and has received emergency funding from the state. This will, however, “only supports us for this financial year and not beyond March 2021”, it’s statement claims.

The first phase of the consultation begins today, with a conclusive restructuring plan set to be fully implemented in the spring or summer next year.