The chief executive of The Lowry in Salford has today unveiled a proposal to support the arts centre’s entire contracted workforce until the building can re-open.
In a video message to employees on Monday (22 June), Julia Fawcett OBE vowed to fight for every job while simultaneously tackling the biggest financial crisis in the art sector’s history.
With the doors closed to the public since Tuesday, 17 March and box office income effectively evaporating overnight, the centre is currently operating with a skeleton staff. The Government’s job retention scheme has provided a vital lifeline to The Lowry and many other arts organisation and The Lowry has been one of the few organisations that has maintained full salary payments for contracted staff since March – voluntarily topping up the Government contributions.
Outlining her plan to launch a Lowry-funded job retention scheme from 1 November (when the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme closes on 31 October) Fawcett pledged that staff would be back in-post ‘as soon as possible’.
She said: “Government needs to act, as it stands today there is no plan for the arts sector following the end of the JRS. We will do what we can to support our staff through the introduction of a Lowry Retention scheme – but this will in no way match the scale of the Chancellor’s scheme.
The Lowry has some 222 full-time-equivalent contracted staff with whom it is now in formal consultation with over the proposal, which also includes staff maintaining continuity of service, employee benefits and pension contributions.
The centre’s 300-strong volunteer programme remains on pause. Casual staff working in the venue’s catering, box office and front of house departments will remain on furlough until 31 October, with The Lowry introducing top-up payments in August as the Government contribution tapers to maintain casual staff on 80% of their average annual weekly wage.