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Museum of Literature Ireland to axe third of staff amid mounting financial problems

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The Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) is looking to make more than a third of its staff redundant as part of a cost-cutting drive.

The Dublin museum, which opened in 2019 in Newman House in St Stephen’s Green, blamed the cutbacks on “growing operational costs” which it said had outpaced admissions and income growth.

In a statement posed on X, formerly Twitter, the museum’s management said voluntary redundancies would be sought from among its 37 staff.

“It is estimated that some 13 redundancies are required from across the museum’s operational staff including front-of-house and back-office administrative staff,” it said.

However, the museum warned that if the number of voluntary redundancies did not meet the required reduction in operational costs, compulsory redundancies would “be introduced on a last in, first out basis”.

The museum said the “redundancy arrangements” would be statutory, meaning the staff involved would receive just two weeks’ gross pay per year of service up to a ceiling of €600 per week.

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Located in Newman House in St Stephen’s Green, the museum is a partnership between the National Library of Ireland (NLI) and University College Dublin (UCD). It is branded MoLI in homage to the Molly Bloom character in James Joyce’s Ulysses.

“In 2023, MoLI experienced increased operational losses on previous years,” the museum said in its statement.

It said it had a trading income of some €1.4 million last year originating from admissions, retail, cafe concession, event hire, grants, philanthropic support and corporate partnership.

“Following the Covid-19 Pandemic, admissions and income growth have been increasing but this has been outpaced by the growing operational costs of the museum,” it said.

“At this point, the management of the museum has confidence that the deteriorating financial situation can be addressed by redundancies and other targeted reductions in operational costs,” it said, noting it also aims to enhance revenue generation through commercial supports and renewed approaches to marketing.

The museum said its founding partners, the NLI and UCD, remain committed to the museum. The organisation’s strategic plan includes an expanded campaign “for philanthropic support to grow its pioneering learning and exhibition programmes”.

“However, these regrettable operational cost-cutting measures are needed at this stage for the museum to work to return to financial viability and to create an operational cost model that can support the museum’s ambitions while strengthening its financial base to withstand future risk,” it said.

“Redundancy arrangements will be statutory, and additional supports relating to CV and interview preparation will be made available to staff to assist them in securing new roles outside the company,” it said.

Since its opening in 2019, MoLI has been the recipient of several major museum and heritage awards including, most recently, the European Commission Europa Nostra Grand Prix Award 2023 for Citizens’ Engagement.

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