The Impact of COVID-19 on Tate

Like many other organisations, Tate has been hit hard by the pandemic. Covid-19 is the toughest challenge of a generation.

When Tate closed its galleries at the end of March we had just experienced one of our most successful years, generating 70% of our own income and welcoming record visitor figures to many of our galleries. In stark contrast, less than 9 months later, the impact of the pandemic has changed everything for us, as it has for so many other organisations and communities around the world.

We have been closed for almost 6 months in total and we have seen only 20% of previous visitor numbers when open. As a result, at the end of this financial year we expect to have welcomed only 1 million visitors instead of 8 million. For every £10 we were expecting to make this year, we are only receiving £4, and we expect to lose £56 million in self-generated income overall. This kind of loss hits Tate particularly hard, as such a large proportion of the funds we rely on are normally self-generated. The road to recovery will be a long one, with tourism not expected to return to previous levels until 2024/25, and the wider economy facing the long-term effects of the pandemic.

We now need to do what so many others in our sector are doing, which is to reduce the overall size of Tate Gallery’s workforce. We need to make a 12% reduction (equivalent to around 120 full-time roles) in order to save £4.8 million to allow us to survive this crisis. We are therefore now launching a voluntary redundancy scheme, open to colleagues in all departments and at all levels to express an interest in taking voluntary redundancy, early retirement, reduced working hours or a career break. We are already in consultation with our trade unions and we welcome their input and support at this challenging time. We hope that this voluntary process will help us make these significant savings, but we cannot rule out having to move to compulsory redundancy in 2021 to meet the necessary level of reductions. If so, we will protect as many jobs as possible and ensure that no area of the workforce is unfairly hit harder than any other.

Since the onset of the pandemic Tate has pursued every avenue to tackle the shortfall. We have argued for and gratefully received Government support and are continuing to make the case for more; we have cut operating budgets in half; we have frozen all but the most essential recruitment; we have cut Executive Group salaries; we have restructured our retail and catering business to save it from closure; and we have taken as much from our emergency reserves as we are allowed. Our colleagues have worked hard to protect and grow available income, including expanding online retail and supporting our loyal Members, Patrons and Donors. But these measures alone will not address the long-term financial challenges we are facing.

Reducing the size of our workforce is a course of action we take with huge reluctance. The knowledge, experience and passion of our colleagues across Tate is at the heart of our success and is hugely valued. We, nevertheless, have no choice given the impact of the pandemic on our finances. Working with colleagues and in partnership with our trade unions we are determined to do everything in our power to secure the long-term future of Tate for our colleagues, our visitors, for artists and for future generations.

Maria Balshaw, Director

Vicky Cheetham, Chief Operating Officer