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V&A Dundee chief fears museum will be forced to close as Omicron spreads

Dundee waterfront free wifi
Dundee V&A museum, Dundee waterfront development.

The chair of V&A Dundee fears the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 could lead to the museum being forced to close.

A few weeks ago Tim Allan was hoping the design museum could extend its opening hours from February.

But, following infection rates closely, the V&A Dundee chair fears a return to Scottish Government restrictions after Christmas.

After closing on Christmas Eve last year, the museum shut for the first four months of the year.

Mr Allan, who is also president of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “It’s hard to gauge what’s going to happen. I wouldn’t put it past there being restrictions again.

“If the number of infections rise, we could go back to closures again.

“If infection rates among staff rise, we have a responsibility to look after them.

“We might be short staffed, the same problem every business faces at the moment. But when you are operating a destination, staff can’t work from home.”

Strong financial year for V&A Dundee

Mr Allan said a financial surplus built by the museum in its 2020-21 financial year will be needed to help its recovery.

The newly filed accounts for the year ending March 31 2021 show revenue of £7.8m and a profit of £1.7m.

This compares to income of £6.2m and a loss of £1.1m in 2020.

During the year a deal was struck for the Scottish Government to increase its annual grant from £1m to £3m. An additional £1m payment due to Covid-19 was made last year.

“The Scottish Government has recognised the investment case for the museum as a cultural landmark and a catalyst for the Tay Cities economy,” Mr Allan said.

V&A Dundee chair Tim Allan fears the museum might face new restrictions after Christmas.

“It’s heartening to know the museum is on a strong financial footing but this money is going to be needed for the recovery of the museum going forward.

“There are no illusions here about the challenges we still face.

“The support we’ve had from the founders, members, donors and the Government has been phenomenal. It’s heartening the support is there.”

The V&A also led a Cultural Recovery Fund which raised £1m for five Dundee cultural institutions. £500,000 of this total came from Northwood Charitable Trust, run by the Thomson family.

Covid impact on exhibitions

Next year will see a show focusing on Scottish dancer and choreographer Michael Clark. It will be followed by shows about plastics and tartan.

Mr Allan said, due to Covid-19, the museum had fewer exhibitions running longer.

“We’ve taken measures to manage our expenditure really closely,” he said.

“We were able to extend Night Fever longer than intended so more people can see it. That will be the case with Michael Clark next year.

“We have to manage our business as tightly as possible and hope for better times ahead.

Tartan in 2023 is the first time we are curating and exporting an exhibition.”

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