National Gallery to cut staff and collections

The National Gallery of Australia has today announced it will cut over 12% of staff in 2020 due to a $3.6 million funding shortfall.

The union representing National Gallery of Australia workers, the CPSU, is calling on the government to exempt Australia’s cultural institutions from the efficiency dividend and restore funding of the National Gallery.

Over the next 5 years the NGA will be forced to find $6.8 million in savings to be sustainable. The Gallery is struggling with rising utility costs, building maintenance, falling interest rates and the ongoing efficiency dividend implemented by the federal government.

The Gallery's pre-existing budget woes have been exacerbated by Covid-19. Travel restrictions and a downturn in tourism have hit the NGA, with 80% of the NGAs audience coming from outside Canberra. Whilst the Gallery remains open, serious measures to ensure public and staff safety mean that access is restricted and the future exhibitions uncertain.

A voluntary redundancy process will be open this week and will run for three weeks, following this process further staff cuts may need to be considered. This latest round of cuts is on the back of a 10% cut in staff only 4 years ago.

Beth Vincent-Pietsch, CPSU Deputy National Secretary said, “Our national institutions are struggling to cope under the pressure of years and years of budget cuts. The CPSU is calling on the government to exempt our cultural institutions from the razor gang, reverse the efficiency dividend and fund our critical cultural institutions for future generations.”

“The NGA is a much-loved part of our national identity. It is one of the keys to our cultural memory and understanding. More than that it has a legislated mandate to collect, exhibit, and restore the very best of Australian and international art. This Government's underfunding is crippling the NGA’s capacity to meet its mandate.”

“Over the last decade, cultural institutions have been starved of funding by this federal government. There is no fat for the gallery to cut, these staff cuts are only cutting into bone. Our members are seriously concerned about the impact these cuts will have on the galleries ability to collect, restore and exhibit in the future.”