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CALGARY – The layoff of staff at the Glenbow Museum, combined with a hiring freeze, will have a serious impact on the Museum’s ability to serve the public, the Union representing Museum employees said today.

Wilf Allen, President of CUPE 1645, said eleven union members were laid off last Monday morning, including employees with over 30 years of service.  Mr. Allen said a hiring freeze in effect since 2008 has already seriously hurt the museum, leaving 13 of 81 positions vacant in addition to the layoffs.

There have been no layoffs among management staff.

We’ve already closed the museum to visitors the equivalent of one day per week, and I fear more closures and layoffs are coming,” said Mr. Allen.  “Researchers will feel the loss of three archivists when they access the Glenbow’s collection of photos and other records.  The general public will notice a reduction in exhibits and programs.”

Positions from departments across the board were cut in an effort to scale back operational costs as the museum faces a $1.6 million deficit from 2008, a sizeable budget deficit for 2009, and a cash flow crisis.

The Union has been concerned about the Glenbow’s financial situation for over a year.  “All the cuts are coming from the bottom meaning that frontline services are suffering the most in addition to having to pick up the work of employees who have been cut,” said Mr. Allen.  “CUPE members will continue to work with the Glenbow during this economic downturn but we need to be more involved in the process before the final decisions are made”.
Museums and galleries across Canada and the United States are facing similar circumstances because of the economic downturn that has resulted in shrinking endowment funds and a decrease in earned and donated income.  Earlier this year, the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto) and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa) laid off employees.  Members at the Museum of Civilization (Gatineau) and the Canadian War Museum (Ottawa) are currently on strike.