2020 Turner Prize Fellows said in an open letter that downsizing the museum runs counter to Tate’s commitment to making art accessible to everyone.
The Turner Prize is maybe the most prestigious contemporary art award. Any artist who has worked and exhibited in the UK in the past 12 months can become the winner of the award. In 2020, the award was canceled for the first time in 30 years. The reason was quarantine amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of the traditional competition, the organizers decided, with the help of sponsors, to award grants of $ 12.2 thousand to ten masters.
This spring, the museum decided to give ten artists one-time grants of £ 10,000 instead of an annual exhibition. Among them were Liz Johnson Artur, Orit Eshari, and Shawanda Corbett.
The ten artists who received Turner Grants this year issued an open letter in which they expressed their solidarity with the 313 Tate Enterprises Ltd employees who were fired last week.
The artists expressed their support for the members of the public and commercial workers union who went on strike at the Tate, and solidarity with their demand that no layoffs be allowed as long as the Tate has employees receiving salaries above £ 100,000. They add that 10% of the additional £ 7 million in funding that the government has pledged to provide the museum should also be directed towards preserving jobs.
The 2020 Turner Prize Fellows write that they are touched and grateful for the support of Tate Britan, but are outraged and disappointed that Tate Enterprises did not show the same support to their employees. The cuts, which must be made no later than mid-September, directly contradict Tate’s commitment to making art available to everyone.
Last week, Tate Director Maria Balshaw sent an email to the museum staff, in which she assured that management had done everything possible to save as many jobs as possible, but Tate simply could not afford to maintain the same large staff as before, amid the ongoing crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic. The long-term decline in attendance that they expect for the foreseeable future, and the associated decline in income, left them no choice but to reduce activity in line with future demand.