Redundancies mooted at Shakespeare charity amid £8.5m loss of income

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust says it is facing having to make reductions to its workforce because it expects to lose 90 per cent of its income this year

William Shakespeare's Birthplace Museum (Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
William Shakespeare's Birthplace Museum (Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Staff at the charity that runs historic William Shakespeare sites face possible redundancy amid an expected £8.5m loss of income this year. 

A statement from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, which looks after heritage sites relating to the author in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, said the charity faced losing 90 per cent of its income in 2020 because of the enforced closure of its sites due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

It said it had begun a consultation with its 241 employees about a restructure in response to the financial losses. 

A spokesman for the charity said there were no figures available for how many jobs might be lost or how many staff were vulnerable to redundancy but it was hoped that any job losses would be voluntary. 

The trust said it planned to reopen the Shakespeare Birthplace Museum later this summer but its four other Shakespeare sites - Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shakespeare's New Place, Hall’s Croft and Mary Arden’s Farm - would remain closed until at least the spring. 

The trust said social distancing requirements would mean that reopening those properties would cost more than keeping them closed.

The charity, which usually has an annual income of about £11m, said it had received a £900,000 award from the Arts Council England’s emergency fund. 

Tim Cooke, chief executive of the charity, said: “With the enforced closure of our properties, shops, and catering venues in March, we will suffer a loss of £8.5m of income for 2020, with a challenging financial picture for 2021. 

“In addition to this loss the trust itself is investing significant cash this year in maintaining its limited operation.

“Like many organisations operating in the culture, tourism, hospitality and retail arenas the trust has to look at its costs. 

“Regrettably, this will mean a reduction to our workforce and the trust is in consultation with its employees to look at options to reduce employee numbers, wherever possible through a voluntary redundancy scheme, and changes to working arrangements.  

“We have no option but to act and to seek the support of others to ensure that our charity is able to survive the impact of Covid-19 and build a recovery plan.”

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