Tate posts a £40k ‘Head of Coffee’ job and faces backlash over low curator pay

Tate posts a £40k ‘Head of Coffee’ job and faces backlash over low curator pay
Opinion

Despite the backlash, Tate has defended its latest job posting for a head of coffee role with a salary of nearly £40,000, slightly more than the average salary of a London-based curator. Criticism of the role highlights how low museum wages are.

According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary for a curator based in London is £37,300. The Prospect union said the pay discrepancy proves how badly paid museum wages are relative to other jobs in the arts sector. The irony is that heritage-specific roles are paid poorly, despite the fact that without qualified specialist workers, there would be no galleries or museums.

The gallery defended the role, saying it was unfair to compare a head of department with a curatorial role of a different level. Critics doubled down by saying that this is not about the head of coffee being paid too much, but that museum workers are often paid too little.

“All Tate’s departments have a variety of roles with different responsibilities and salaries, including curatorial, and a more accurate comparison would be a curatorial team leader,” Tate’s statement said. “We value all our staff and strive to pay them appropriately for their work at Tate.”

Tate also clarified that a curatorial team leader salary ranges from £40,000 to £50,000, depending on how big the team is. In 2017, the Museum’s Association said that low pay was a major problem for the arts sector and that salaries are way behind other sectors with employees barely keeping up with the costs of living.

The job at Tate encompasses all aspects of coffee within the four Tate galleries and requires candidates to have “extensive experience of cupping and espresso quality assessment”. It further requires blending and roasting coffee for use in all Tate Eats’ sites and managing the hot beverage team, while being responsible for “all aspects of tea and coffee”, and managing a slot-roasting program, plus wholesale and white label contracts.