Losses recorded by Trinity College’s Science Gallery more than doubled last year to €568,924 while its income declined by 22 per cent to €1.17 million, latest accounts for the gallery show.
The impact left the gallery with accumulated losses of €965,301 at the end of September 2020. The losses for last year were “in part due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the gallery’s operations”, the annual review states, with the costs underwritten by the college.
Trinity last week told the 15 staff at the popular gallery on Pearse Street that it would close due to unsustainable losses. It has since put that decision on hold to allow for talks with Government to see if new funding can be secured to keep it open.
The accounts show that income received from Trinity, Government, philanthropy and corporates amounted to just more than €950,000 in the 12-month period. This was down from just more than €1.2 million a year earlier.
Government funding was €362,451 while Trinity provided €305,280 to the gallery. Operational income declined to €221,693 to give total revenue of €1.17 million for the year.
In terms of expenditure, the gallery’s wages and pay costs rose by 19 per cent to €896,974 and amounted to 52 per cent of its total spending. However, department expenditure declined to €615,105 from €794,948, with spending on exhibitions down 8 per cent to €315,425.
The annual review gives no hint that the gallery was under threat of closure. One section talks about a new strategy that shifts the focus from “short-term low-impact approaches to purpose-led and community-centred activations”.
“In the development of these themes, we will consider how Science Gallery Dublin’s values and mission intersect with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Trinity’s Strategic Plan 2020-2025, current plans for government and the college Research Excellence Strategy,” it adds.
In a note circulated to staff this week, the board said that while there was “strong support” for the gallery to remain open the college could not continue to sustain the current rate of losses. It added that the future of the gallery could only be secured with “sufficient funding from Government”. Talks on additional funding with officials from two departments took place earlier this week.
Staff issued their own statement this week saying that they had been told by the board that for the gallery to be revived, Trinity and Science Gallery International – an international offshoot – would have to “develop an entirely new vision” for the facility and “base it on a much smaller number of staff”.
Apart from a short window in the summer of 2020 the gallery was closed from March 2020 until October this year when its current exhibition, Bias, opened.