Jobs go at Customs House as South Shields culture venue faces ‘challenging times’

The Customs House, Mill Dam
The Customs House, Mill Dam

South Tyneside’s leading arts venue has confirmed it has accepted voluntary redundancies in a bid to balance the books – two years after it was saved from closure.

Bosses at the Customs House say three full-time employees have accepted redundancy packages after their jobs were reduced to being part-time.

Ray Spencer.

Ray Spencer.

The move has seen the weekly hours available in those posts reduce from 111 hours a week to 48.

Executive director Ray Spencer MBE said the arts and live music and entertainment venue, which now employs 51 people, was operating within “challenging times”.

And he admitted overheads were such that they would continue to be reviewed.

He added: “These are challenging times for the third sector and the Customs House, like many similar organisations, needs to review its staffing structures against its performance.

“Sadly we have had to delete some posts and make some full-time posts into part-time roles as a result some staff were offered redundancy packages.

“Some full-time posts have been made part-time and as a result three staff have accepted redundancy packages. We will continue to review overheads against turnover.”

The Grade II listed Customs House, which opened its doors in November 1994, delivers a programme of live performance, cinema, visual arts and projects.

It has a 437 seat theatre, 145 seated studio/cinema, gallery spaces, restaurant, private dining room and an events suite.

In January 2015, it came to close to closing but was saved with help from Arts Council England.

At the time, Mr Spencer admitted the venue’s future remained in doubt and issued a “use it or lose it” warning to the residents of South Tyneside.

And in July 2016, bosses confirmed a review was being carried out of the staffing structure.

They said they were confident it would help create a sustainable future, leaving the venue well placed to meet any further challenges.