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Tate protest
Photography Juliane Sonntag

Over 300 artists sign an open letter supporting striking Tate staff

Workers are protesting against plans to cut jobs, despite the London galleries receiving £7 million in bailout money

An open letter voicing support for striking Tate workers, and calling for the organisation to use 10% of the £7 million it received in bailout money from the government to save jobs, has been signed by over 300 artists.

“Tate Enterprises workers employed in Tate’s bookshops and cafes are facing a large-scale restructure and redundancy process that will result in 313 of job losses in the midst of a pandemic and an economic downturn,” explains the letter, signed by 2008 Turner Prize winner Mark Leckey, as well as the four winners of last year’s prize.

 “This is despite the announcement by the government to provide a £1.5 billion rescue package for the sector – of which Tate will receive £7 million.”

Urging Tate Enterprises to stop plans for lay-offs immediately, the letter’s authors demand that there are no redundancies while senior members of staff earn more than £100,000, adding: “Just 10% of the Tate’s £7mil government bailout would be enough to save many of TEL jobs. If the money isn’t enough, then Tate must demand more funding.”

The letter also points out that workers for Tate Enterprises – which operates retail, catering, and publishing services across all of the Tate sites – “are the lowest paid and most diverse section of Tate’s workforce, with many women, BAME and immigrant workers among their team.”

“They are striking to defend both their workers’ rights and the right to have arts institutions somehow still open to low-income background workers.”

Other artists including Amalia Ulman, Hannah Black, and Cecile B. Evans have also signed the letter, along with the Turner Prize-nominated collective Forensic Architecture and the filmmaker Ken Loach.

Since it began last month, the strike has additionally gained support from the likes of Jeremy Deller and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who spoke at a rally outside Tate Modern August 22. Read Dazed’s conversation with Tate workers to find out exactly why they’re striking.