Jobs threatened at Culture Coventry Trust

Jobs threatened at Culture Coventry Trust

The Herbert

The plans to deliver Coventry’s City of Culture in 2021 were badly dented as news was released that as many as 17 staff (over 15% of the total workforce) could face redundancy at the city’s main museums and art galleries, including the Herbert and Coventry Transport Museum.

With reduced funding from Council grants and general cuts to art’s funding, the cultural experience for Coventry citizens and visitors to our city is continually threatened.

Cuts to library services, reductions in opening hours of museums and more reliance on volunteers have weakened the cultural foundations in our city. Initiatives such as the historic 12th century Grammar School building in the centre of the city are also at risk.

Local groups are constantly struggling to provide and enhance those activities which enrich so many people’s lives with arts and music, especially disadvantaged groups and people with disabilities. Many are having to spend huge amounts of time on bids and fund raising to keep their groups going.

Art, music and other subjects in our schools are under threat because of government underfunding and the pressure to deliver narrow exam results.

People in the past had access to a wide range of Adult Education classes in arts, crafts and music but many of those have now been cut.

It’s undeniable that Coventry has a rich cultural history and there is lots going on, but just imagine what cultural life in Coventry could be like if there were much more resources available and people had more time to get involved.  We are a wealthy country, but whilst the top 1% syphon off their money to squander on hugely expensive pieces of art for personal gratification instead of paying their fair share of taxes, the rest of us are expected to put up with endless cuts.

As Socialists, we believe that investing in the arts is important.  It is about creating a world to allow all people to live life to the full: to run society, to study, and to create.   We want to see a society where every city and community is a beacon of culture and not just for one year. To do that, will mean fighting for a different type of economy – a socialist system where human need is put before private profit.

  • Not a penny to big business or property development projects!
  • Use the money to fund services and leisure opportunities for working class people all across the city!

Herbert Art Gallery and Belgrade Theatre facing cuts

Herbert Art Gallery and Belgrade Theatre facing cuts

The Herbert faces closure due to austerity cuts

The Herbert faces closure due to austerity cuts

Coventry Council has taken aim at funding for the Herbert Art Gallery and the Belgrade Theatre in its next round of austerity measures, with £250K of cuts planned for each of them.

Just a few months ago staff at the Herbert Art Gallery, run by Culture Coventry, were threatened with the sack unless they agreed to new terms and conditions for their work, including huge pay cuts. Now their jobs are on the line due to council cuts – and the future of the Herbert is at risk as well, as the cuts could lead to its closure.

The Belgrade has already warned that if its funding is cut it may be unable to continue supporting local grassroots productions, negatively impacting theatre groups in the city.

Belgrade-Theatre-landscape

For a city that is bidding to be “City of Culture”, the council seem set on attacking the “culture” we have. Libraries, theatres and galleries face closure, along with many other services across the city. Coventry has a wealth of culture and history that we can be proud of – from poets like Philip Larkin to bands like The Specials, our city has created more than our fair share of working class talent. Slashing funding to theatres and galleries will stifle that spark of creativity.

Museum staff forced to take pay cut

Museum staff forced to take pay cut

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist

Museum staff in Coventry – working for the trust that manages the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, the Transport Museum, Lunt Fort and the Priory Visitor Centre – are being forced to take a pay cut which could cost them up to £3000 a year.

Two weeks ago all staff of Culture Coventry were given a letter from the Chief Executive, Gary Hall, saying that they had to sign to accept new terms of employment by 5th May or their contracts would be terminated, and they would only be offered their jobs back under the new terms.

Dave Nellist, of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, who first raised the matter publicly at a memorial service attended by councillors and held adjacent to the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum on April 28, said today:

“The new contract scraps flexitime and enhanced payment for weekend and evening work. As the nature of the museums is to be open 7 days a week plus special events, staff have relied on shift and unsocial hours money as part of their earnings. Many workers face a £3,000 a year loss.

“This is yet another example of people who have absolutely no responsibility for the recession and economic crisis being asked to pay for it. Most staff at Culture Coventry are so frightened of losing their jobs, and being unable to pay their mortgage, that they are keeping their heads down and taking it all.

“But I understand Coventry City Council has four elected members on the Board of Culture Coventry, and that they were briefed 3 months ago about these wage cuts – yet it appears that many other councillors, including some from the controlling Labour group, were unaware of these cuts until I raised it last week.

“Councillors on the Board of Culture Coventry should call an emergency meeting and then have these disgraceful wage cuts rescinded. The City Council, who until recently ran all these services, should not put them under arms length arrangements and then wash their hands of all responsibility for staff, many of whom have given years if not decades of service to this city.”

This is the letter sent to museum staff.

Herbert Art Gallery staff forced to take pay cut

Herbert Art Gallery staff forced to take pay cut