Arts and culture workers to protest against mass redundancies in the sector

Emilee Geist

ARTS and culture workers will march on the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) in London on Saturday to protest against mass redundancies in museums, galleries and art venues. The sector is one of those worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic and protesters are angry at the failure of […]

ARTS and culture workers will march on the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) in London on Saturday to protest against mass redundancies in museums, galleries and art venues.

The sector is one of those worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic and protesters are angry at the failure of the government’s £1.5 billion Culture Recovery Fund to protect jobs.

Huge numbers of roles have already been lost or are still at risk, including 313 at Tate, 365 at the Southbank Centre and 400 casual staff at the National Theatre.

The Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union (Bectu) warned In August that 5,000 West End theatre jobs are at risk in London’s West End. 

These cuts will fall disproportionately on low paid, casual staff, many of whom are from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, protest organisers have warned.

And executive salaries over £100,000 are being preserved whilst those who struggle to achieve a real living wage are the first to be made redundant, they added. 

There has been overwhelming support for striking workers and against redundancies from across the arts world, with appearances from actor Vanessa Redgrave and artist Mark Leckey at protests, recorded messages of support from filmmaker Ken Loach and artist Larry Achiampong as well as the donation of a protest banner by artist Jeremy Deller. 

Protesters are demanding that the government extend the furlough scheme for the Arts and Culture sector, enable faster access to Culture Recovery Fund for institutions with emergency funding delivered as grants rather than loans and the reallocation of £120 million earmarked for the 2022 “Festival of Brexit” to save at-risk jobs. 

PCS branch secretary Gareth Spencer said: “As our members take part in a strike ballot against staff cuts and severely reduced redundancy terms, we call on DCMS to save as many jobs as possible at Southbank Centre and all the other institutions currently sacking staff during a pandemic. 

“Our members should not have to pay the price for this crisis.”

Protesters will assemble outside the Tate Modern at 11pm and march past the National Theatre and Southbank Centre before a holding rally outside the DCMS.

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