Outlook 3'00” °" swam. galleria
Strike threats, redundancies and reduced opening hours add up to an unhappy New Year for Scotland’s museums and art galleries. Stephen Naysmith reports.
Workers at the National Galleries of Scotland are
threatening to take strike action for the ﬁrst time ever.
while Glasgow museums and galleries have already reduced their opening hours and face the loss of 57 members of staff.
It is a grim catalogue of woes that councillors in Edinburgh and Glasgow are keen to blatne on central government. Wherever the buck stops. however. it is already having an impact on visitor numbers and the tourist trade in both cities.
An alliance of unions representing National Galleries staff has just rejected a 0.9 per cent pay offer: ‘The director Timothy Clifford has expansion plans which he wants to pay for by holding back on staff pay increases’. claims Albie O‘Neill. negotiations ofﬁcer for the PTC (Union of Public Services Tax And Commerce).
‘Unless the management position changes substantially there is every prospect that strike action will close the galleries.'. he added.
Morale is. ifanything. lower in Glasgow where 57 jobs in art galleries and museums are likely to be cut this year. The spending crisis at the City Of Glasgow Council has already led to galleries closing on Tuesdays.
Senior steward for Glasgow Museums. Duncan Ferguson. admitted morale was low. ‘We have submitted alternative proposals to the council to avoid the job cuts.
‘We have a full exhibiting programme this year and next. btrt how that is going to be achieved with the massive staff cuts isn't clear.‘
Of particular concern is the city‘s ﬂagship attraction. the Burrell Collection. Struggling to cover annual running costs of £2rn a year. it has seen a steady fall in attendances since the heady days of the eighties. In I984. a year after it had opened. the Burrell attracted one million visitors to become Scotland’s leading free tourist attraction.
A drop was always expected as the novelty value wore off. But the decline has continued: new ﬁgures show that attendances have fallen l7 per cent in two years. down to 280.000 in I996.
While visitors to the Burrell are not charged. there
have been murmurs of disapproval at a car parking fee imposed at a ﬂat rate of£l .20. Meanwhile. in an apparent attempt to reposition the gallery. the cafeteria-style catering area has been ‘re-vamped‘. With the advertising soundbite ‘where ﬁne art meets ﬁne food‘. it reopened as a restaurant with 25 pre- booked tables. considerably less than half the capacity provided by the previous regime. Letters to national newspapers have condemned the change as ‘elitist‘.
One member of staff. who did not wish to be named. said it had caused problems. ‘It is a bit ofa disaster. You queue fora long time. never get served and if you are served you are charged a fortune fora cup of tea.‘
John Robertson. spokesperson for Glasgow Museums and Art Galleries. denied that the Burrell Collection was in decline. ‘It is still a flagship attraction.‘ he said. ‘We are holding otrr own. Last year. Glasgow museums and galleries had 3. |08.000 visitors compared with 2.365.000 in l995.‘
This is an impressive rise. even consideringthe addition of the Gallery of Modern Art which attracted half a million people. However. the Tuesday closures have yet to impact on the ﬁgures. ‘We estimate the closures will cost between three and six million pounds in tourism each year.‘ Robertson added. ‘lt is an awful shame.‘
()ne ofthe city's plans to revitalise the collection
Burrell Collection: not the draw It one was?
important international museums and galleries. However. this is currently prevented by the terms of Sir William Burrell’s will. which bequeathed the collection. worth £20 million. to the city on the express condition that items would not be loaned abroad.
The council hope the House of Lords will overturn that restriction. ‘At the time the will was made foreign travel was rmrch less safe than it is now.‘ Robertson points out. ‘Exchanging works with other major collections would revitalise interest in the Burrell collection both at borne and abroad.‘
However. quick ﬁxes don't seem likely in the current circumstances. Unless further funding can be found there is little prospect of cheer for museum staff or their visitors.
would include exchanging works of art with other
A. M. Hodge
The List notes with great sadness the death of
Mr A. M. Hodge on Saturday 4 January 1997. We would like to express our gratitude for the support and encouragement which he gave to the magazine in the years after its launch in I985. It was due to him that The List was able to weather the early storms and go on to expand and develop into the first successful magazine to be published in Scotland for many years. '
And ﬁnally. . . kilt-wearing is no crime (unless you’re Gazza)
Ifyou are sick and bloody well tired of the Spice Girls. spare more than a moment's thought for Jane Cleere. She has suffered the ultimate humiliation of being dumped by her bloke. Sacha Hayward. due to his obsessive inclinations towards Posh. Sporty. Topless. The Kid and the other one. Given an ultimatum to choose between the spicy girls and plain Jane. Sacha told The Daily Record — ‘I chose the Spice Girls because they are much better looking than Jane.‘ Fair enough. I suppose.
Perhaps sad Sacha saw the separate elements of the Fatuous Five as a kind of compendium of his ideal woman.
cheekbones. Kim Basinger‘s lips. Uma Thurman's chin. Claudia Schiffer's legs and Cindy Crawford‘s breasts have been assimilated to construct supenvoman. A prize ol'£2500 is up for grabs for anyone claiming to be a
A body ofa different sort has made teeny tots across the country gasp in amazement. Sooty. friend of Sweep and Sue. has developed a previously undetected growth. Legs. The Remer has reported that ITV have spent a million big ones on Snurrs Amazing Adventures. thirteen cartoon episodes which contain controversial scenes of the fluffy one walking. running. dancing and doing all manner of activities which require the use of
Spice Girls: wannabe single again?
man voted Britain‘s worst-dressed man in two polls last year is hoping to team up with a couple of Geordie mates who own Cairo Clothing. Their ﬁrst store hasjust opened in Edinburgh and the oh-so-wacky one is grappling for a slice of the cake. Or should that be cakes?
Gascoigne has been all too keen in the past to pose in a kilt (do English- based Scottish players ever model bowler hats?) but the national rig-out got a piper in California in lumber recently. The People carried the sorry tale of a council ofﬁcial who reported the kilted musician. after witnessing him playing in a Scottish shop. The cops replied that no law had been breached. yet the ignorarnus took her case to the council who also stated that
America‘s Star magazine views things slightly differently. Through computer-generated cut-and-paste- type shenanigans. Jane Seyrnour‘s hair. Liz Taylor‘s eyes. Bo Derek's
legs. Sooty was unavailable for comment but close sources revealed that it was a small price to pay to have a couple of limbs attached where a sweaty ﬁst has been for years.
Puppets. of course. are legendary for their complete inability to control the flailing of their own arms. Paul ‘Gazza‘ Gascoigne. meanwhile. is
moving into the fashion trade. The
there was no need for the piper to get his kilt off. All this in the state where people pay hard cash to wave and coo at 50-foot mice. (Brian Donaldson)
The List l0-23 .lan I997 5