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Redundancy threat looms at Shakespeare’s Globe as ‘difficult financial year’ bites

Shakespeare's Globe. Photo: John Wildgoose Shakespeare's Globe. Photo: John Wildgoose
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Staff at Shakespeare’s Globe are facing the threat of redundancy as part of a restructuring plan aimed at cutting costs. It could affect up to 40 employees.

The Globe’s exhibition space will close following what the London theatre has described as a “difficult financial year”, meaning several roles will be restructured and some teams merged.

The theatre said the changes to its tours and exhibitions department would impact approximately 40 employees – about 14% of its 288-strong staff.

However, the Globe stressed that the number of redundancies would be far fewer than 40 and it hoped to move many of those affected to new positions.

A statement from the Globe said it was introducing a number of cost-saving measures to secure the theatre’s financial stability. These include the closure of the current exhibition space, which will be repurposed for commercial hire and rehearsal use.

The organisation said that despite being in a secure financial position, it had a “much-reduced surplus” compared with previous years. This was due to a difficult 12 months financially and “challenging macro-economic circumstances”, the theatre said, stressing that its operation was not supported by any public subsidy, unlike many producing houses of its size.

“As part of the proposed planned closure of the current exhibition, several roles will be restructured and teams merged in order to create a more agile operational team, which may result in some roles being made redundant. The staff whose roles are at risk of redundancy have already been spoken to and a formal consultation process has begun,” the Globe said.

This process is being carried out with BECTU throughout January. The union said its representatives were working with the Globe to “maximise redeployment and minimise compulsory redundancies”. It said it could not comment further.

The theatre’s current exhibition, Hell and Damnation, is running alongside productions of Macbeth and Doctor Faustus in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, and explores early-modern audiences’ beliefs around hell and the paranormal. Entry is included in admission to the theatre’s guided tours, which cost £17 per person.

Despite plans to close its current space, the theatre said it hoped to reintroduce an exhibition offering in the future as part of its overall capital development plans.

In addition to these changes, a 12-month company-wide pay freeze will be implemented as part of the cost-cutting plans announced by chief executive Neil Constable. Staff earning below £25,000 will receive a one-off bonus of £250 to compensate for the impact this will have.

The programme of tours the Globe offers will continue as normal. These became the subject of controversy in 2015 when tour guide staff carried out a strike over pay.

The Globe’s restructure follows similar measures imposed at the Royal Shakespeare Company, where a restructure is underway as part of wider cost-saving measures triggered by the company’s cut in Arts Council England funding.

Two unnamed RSC senior staff members took voluntary redundancy late last year and it is thought a further 10 job losses could follow.

RSC staff braced for redundancies as Arts Council funding cuts hit

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