UK art institution Tate has announced 313 redundancies — almost half of its workforce — due to an expected long-term drop in visitor numbers.

The cuts will be made across its commercial enterprises in London, Liverpool and St Ives, including staff in publishing and in gallery shops, cafes and restaurants.

The decision was confirmed in a statement after an email was sent to employees, with Tate director Maria Balshaw at the weekend suggesting visitor numbers could fall by 50 per cent for the foreseeable future.

A joint statement from Hamish Anderson and Carmel Allen, directors of Tate Enterprises, said: “We have worked hard and exhaustively, to model as optimistically as we can for the future and to keep as many jobs as possible.

“The selection process across these roles will take place over the coming weeks. It is with great sadness that we have been forced by the current circumstances to have to make these decisions. We recognise how difficult this must be for our colleagues and aim to be as supportive as we can while still ensuring the future of the business.”

Tate Enterprises (TEL) staff who are members of the PCS union last week voted for industrial action and condemned the cuts, arguing that they will disproportionately affect black and minority ethnic staff.

In an email to staff, Balshaw and chief operating officer Vicky Cheetham addressed those concerns: “First of all it is important to say that we do not yet know the outcome until selection processes are completed. However, it is likely that the proportion of BAME colleagues across Tate Enterprises will remain broadly the same at the end of the process.”

The email states that Tate has given TEL £5m from its reserves to cover losses and ensure the future of the business. It adds: “As well as this, Tate Gallery could have expected to receive at least £5m in income from TEL over the course of the year and this will now be lost.”

Tate will obtain support from the government’s £1.57bn recovery package to help arts and culture in the UK. It said any government bailout funding will “have to be used to offset the substantial loss of income elsewhere in the Gallery – from ticket sales and other income – generating activities.”

Image: Nathan Hughes Hamilton / CC BY 2.0 / Edited for size