A COUNTY-wide cultural, arts and heritage charity is considering staff redundancies to protect the long-term future of the organisation.

The Hampshire Cultural Trust earlier announced that up to 20 of its 210 staff members could have to be let go as the organisation prepares for a major restructure to boost revenue.

Chief executive Paul Sapwell said staff payments are the biggest costs for the organisation, with staffing costs projected to be approximately £5m for 2023.

Despite some employees being at risk of losing their jobs, as the charity and its 24 venues continues to be hit by rising costs, the executive has said the trust is “financially stable” with the restructure being used to protect its future.

Consultations with staff started on Monday, January 16 with the restructure set to be implemented by February 6.

READ MORE: Hampshire Cultural Trust prepares to cut staff amid economic crisis

The trust is attempting to find alternative roles for staff at risk of redundancy where possible.

Mr Sapwell said: “Staffing is the biggest cost to the business so it’s inevitable that we have to look there to find the savings. We’ve only just started consultations with staff so it’s too early to speak about the reaction.

“There’s a number of staff affected right across the business. We need to invest in the long-term and in the areas that generate income.

“This is a restructuring as opposed to just a cut of staff roles. There are some new roles that will be available within the restructure and there will be some roles at risk of being removed.

“We will consult with the affected staff individually on the best way forward, listening to their feedback before coming to a final decision.”

Other areas under review include opening hours, pricing across all areas of income including ticketing, food and beverage and retail and restrictions on non-essential spend across the organisation.

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Mr Sapwell added: “We’re not proposing any full venue closure but there may be an impact on opening hours and days. We can’t give any more details on that until we’ve finished the consultations.

“We want to continue delivering high-quality culture on people’s doorsteps with the broadest range of communities and groups that we possibly can. But like any organisation, there is a commercial reality to operating in the current economic climate that we must adapt to.”

More commercially valuable venues include The Arc in Winchester and Milestones Museum in Basingstoke as well as one of the charity’s newest ventures 878 AD.

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The chief executive continued: “We are already financially stable, and we’ve made investments in the right areas which should give us long-term commercial growth.  However, we are facing external economic factors which present us with an immediate challenge going into the next financial year.

“We need to take the necessary action now to prevent a more serious problem further down the line. The underlying trajectory is good but we can’t jeopardise that in the short-term.”

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Mr Sapwell confirmed 878 AD has been a “good investment”, particularly due to its online element. He said: “It’s only been open for two months so it’s pretty early to judge its success but the feedback has been generally positive.

“We had a really good holiday period but as with our other venues, in the face of squeezed household budgets, we’re anticipating that the growth will be slower going into next year.

“Even with our most conservative view of where 878 AD should be next year, it will still make a financial contribution to the trust.”

While the charity says visitor figures have recovered well following the pandemic, the cost-of-living has seen visitors spend less on things like food and drink.