Glenbow Museum sent layoff notices to staff on August 15, terminating employment for 16 front-line staff and cutting hours for many remaining employees. While two long-vacant management positions were eliminated, no current managers lost their jobs.
Glenbow staff is represented by CUPE Local 1645. Union head Kim Hallis says the layoffs followed an unsuccessful request several months ago in which the Glenbow asked staff to voluntarily retire or reduce hours.
Hallis stated in a press release, “the cuts will severely impact the museum’s collections and the museum’s ability to serve the public.... the remaining employees will work in an increasingly stressful environment and Albertans will see a very different Glenbow Museum.” She also says the union executive has “repeatedly” brought staff concerns about workload and the museum’s budget to management, but the response was to place the burden of financial mistakes on staff. Layoffs focused primarily on the museum’s collections department. The Glenbow had a staff of roughly 100.
In an interview with Fast Forward Weekly, Hallis says staff morale “doesn’t exist.”
“We knew something was coming, in the building, because we’ve heard of these money problems for a while, but the breadth of what happened today, it’s devastating.”
The Glenbow has also recently been criticized for selling $6,500 tickets for a 10-day “behind-the-scenes” tour of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, despite implications from staff interviewed by Fast Forward Weekly that management and the Glenbow’s board of directors is responsible for mismanagement resulting in three years of million-plus dollars of budgetary deficits. The same staff members allege that recent fundraising efforts at the museum cost more money than they bring in. The tour will be led by museum scholar Bob Kaszanits and Glenbow CEO Kirstin Evenden.