With museums, galleries and visitor venues of all kinds under greater pressure to save money and make cuts, staff are often the first thing to go. It is a tough juggle, and money is tight, but in some places it's getting very worrying for remaining staff. An oft repeated mantra I now hear amongst peers is "...it's only a matter of time before something happens." As in:
"There's not always a first aider available so it's only a matter of time before something happens."
"We only have one staff member for the whole ground floor aside from the shop staff, so it's only a matter of time before something happens."
"The children's actives aren't always manned so it's only a matter of time before something happens."
Over the Olympics weekend no one has mentioned the small incident of the National Gallery having to close 27 rooms on Friday and 30 on Saturday, as concerned staff went on strike. They no longer have one staffer per room, but watch two or three rooms at a time. Wynne Parry, PCS union secretary, said: “Prior to 2010 there was one gallery assistant for each room. Now gallery assistants are expected to look after two or three rooms. We think one gallery assistant per room is the best way of protecting those rooms and adding to the visitor experience.” The National Gallery say this is normal procedure across many museums and galleries, and has been agreed as suitable with their security advisor.
It's not a massive thing perhaps, but much is made of our cultural resources and the value of our tourism, and erm, something has already happened at the NG as last year a painting was vandalised... Where is the line between downsized and risky, and how do you find it without accidents happening?
Webcomic and occasional blog about the heritage sector.
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