Serota splashes Tate cash – to cut galleries' costs


Rob Sharp
Wednesday 02 November 2011 07:05
Director of the Tate Nicholas Serota
Director of the Tate Nicholas Serota

Staff at the Tate galleries are furious about the use of two external consultants who have made £750,000 of savings, describing their techniques as "psychobabble" whose only purpose is to force through job cuts.

One of the consultants, Dee Candlin, says in her online CV that she achieved "effectiveness and efficiency goals" while working at the organisation. Her counterpart, Claire Antrobus, writes on her personal website that she is working at Tate Liverpool to "develop the organisation and its business model to become increasingly visitor-focused".

Ms Antrobus describes Sir Nicholas Serota, the Tate director, as her "mentor" on an arts fellowship scheme between 2009 and 2010.

The consultants were hired in the wake of public funding cuts last year.

An employee at Tate Liverpool said that the decision to engage the consultants was unpopular with staff and was being used to replace managers and place unfair demands on workers. "We call it neurofascism. It's just a load of Californian psychobabble," the employee said.

In her CV, Ms Candlin adds that she worked through the "in-house management structure and with the HR team... achieving enhanced quality of visitor engagement, effectiveness and efficiency" at the Tate. She was employed in Tate's London galleries last year, where union officials say there were wide-ranging changes to staffing. Employees fear similar results in Liverpool, they said. A current Tate Britain worker said bringing in the consultants would be used as a front to dispense with unwanted staff.

A Tate spokeswoman confirmed that a project manager had been employed for just over a year in 2009-10 "in connection with Tate's visitor services and operations across Tate Britain and Tate Modern" and that a temporary project manager is employed at Tate Liverpool. "Where changes in staffing have been made, they have been undertaken in full consultation with staff and our recognised trade unions to ensure that the interests of all staff are taken into account," she said.

Ms Candlin and Ms Antrobus were unavailable for comment yesterday.

The Tate galleries have been beset by bullying allegations, the result of increased stress worsened by employee cutbacks. A statement from the Tate said any bullying was "unacceptable" and it had introduced a "dignity and respect policy" to improve the working environment.

Serota's consultants, from their own CVs...

Dee Candlin

"Focussing on team leadership; achieving strategic goals; with excellent people and performance management ability. Driven by results and the satisfaction derived from offering consistently high quality customer service and project (business transformation and construction) delivery ... Top quality visitor service delivery expertise and major cultural change management in diverse professional settings and heritage buildings."

Claire Antrobus

"Learning and innovation are at the heart of all my work, whether that's through adopting a research-based approach to projects or by facilitating others' learning and development: individually and organisationally. I'm a visual arts specialist but regularly work and look beyond the gallery to the performing arts, social enterprise and internationally in search of new ideas and approaches."

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