STAFF at the Culture Coventry Trust are facing a new round of redundancies amid ongoing financial challenges – in the run-up to hosting UK City of Culture in 2021.
There are also ongoing financial pressures and repairs needed at the listed Old Grammar School building opposite the transport museum. It has already seen a multi-million pound refurbishment since being acquired by the Trust.
We have learned 17 staff from its workforce of 100 have been told they are at risk in the latest restructure at the Trust running Coventry’s cultural ‘crown jewels’ – the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry Transport Museum and Lunt Roman Fort.
It also runs Coventry Tourist Information Centre based at the Herbert, which is also facing more cuts.
Some staff claim the Trust has been badly managed financially and has been under-resourced for years.
The trust has for years faced pressure from council funding cuts amid government cuts to local authorities.
It has been examining ways of generating more revenue through more pay-for-entry displays and events, and other means.
We were told about 17 staff across all museums and departments were informed last week they were at risk, with their posts earmarked for redundancy.
We put member of staffs’ claims to Culture Coventry Trust, which released the following statement:
“A comprehensive review into Culture Coventry Trust has been carried out. This has focused on all aspects of the business – including the services it delivers, gaps in any provision, the structure of its staffing and improvements that can be made.
“The result of this has led to a range of proposals that are currently being consulted on with staff, trade unions and other partners. The proposals would see a restructure that seeks to ensure there is more capacity and resilience at the service end of our business.
“As part of the proposals, there are 17 roles that are potentially at risk but also 17 new positions that would be created as we attempt to ensure we focus our resources to meet the opportunities and challenges ahead. Two of these posts have already been ‘job-matched’ into the new roles.”
It says, in the last 12 months, there has only been one compulsory redundancy, which was at director level.
Asked about the fencing off of the Old Grammar School building and falling tiles, the Trust said: “The old Grammar School is Grade I listed so any repairs have to be handled sensitively so they are sympathetic to this historic building.
“This makes repair work slightly more complicated and at this stage we are still trying to establish how much the repairs will be.”
Some staff are also concerned about the location of the Tourist Information Centre in the middle of the Herbert as being too invisible and hard to find for visitors to the city.
Asked by us if there was any prospect of charging for general admission at Herbert or transport museum, a Trust spokesman responded: “No decisions in relation to charging have been taken at this stage.”
The City of Culture project is managed by a different organisation, the Coventry City of Culture Trust.