We The Curious commences redundancy process with staff

Wednesday 19 August | Jen Forster

19 August 2020

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, We The Curious has sadly had to inform staff that job losses are now inevitable. 

We The Curious has lost more than £1.9million in revenue this financial year since enforced closure in March. In light of the significant reduction of visitor income and lack of Government support packages for science centres, the financial situation of the educational charity and region’s only science centre is looking extremely challenging.

Significant savings urgently need to be made in every area including 33% of its annual salary bill. The review process is now underway, and a formal 30-day consultation process and restructure will begin across all areas and levels of the charity from September.

We the Curious relies on support from visitors, corporate partners and funders* to run its social inclusion and education work and to deliver new exhibitions  - such as Project What If,  which is a funded project, awarded £3m by the Inspiring Science Fund, along with support from other generous funders.

This groundbreaking new exhibition is due to open when We The Curious reopens in November this year. The culmination of three years’ work, Project What If is inspired by 10,000 questions collected from every postcode in the city. It will be the first major science centre exhibition in the UK inspired entirely by the curiosity of a city’s residents

News of the restructure follows from similar announcements from other cultural venues, science centres and museums across the UK.

We The Curious has said that it will provide the fullest support in whatever ways it can to those employees whose jobs are at risk. 

Donna Speed, Chief Executive for We The Curious said:

“This is a difficult and saddening time for our whole team, redundancies are our absolute last resort, and like many, we’ve tried everything to avoid being in this position.

Since our enforced closure in March, we entered into the process with two key principles; to protect our staff and to protect our charity. Since then, our income has shrunk significantly, we’ve done everything that we can to remain resilient and constantly adapt but sadly the economic impact caused by the pandemic means that we simply can’t maintain our current staffing levels.  

Being neither a museum, a frontline crisis charity or an art gallery, we’re not currently eligible for the recently announced Government COVID support packages – unfortunately English science centres seem to fall down the gaps in terms of support, and sadly at a time when science centres have never been more needed by audiences.

This financial situation means we are having to prioritise the future of the organisation; we’re reviewing our structures at every level including our Leadership Team, we’re committed to being a Real Living Wage employer, and we’re safeguarding our funded projects, and projects with young people and communities. We’re also ensuring that when we do reopen our visitor experience remains a quality and trusted experience , as we need the support of our visitors, partners and funders in order to be here for our future audiences.

So it’s with heavy hearts that we’re now speaking with our teams, and starting the restructure process. Everyone has worked so hard over the past few years on Project What If, and we still plan to reopen in November with the new exhibition, but sadly our team will be in a different shape to what we’ve been working on until now.”

The restructure work is currently underway, with the intention that the new working structure will be in place for November 2020, and the reopening of the venue. 


Notes for Editors:

For more information, images or interviews please contact Jen Forster, Communications Manager – jen.forster@wethecurious.org or 07967 334152 You can follow We The Curious on Twitter (@wethecurious_) Facebook (wethecurious) or Instagram (@wethecurious_). For more information, please visit www.wethecurious.org


About We The Curious

We The Curious was previously known as At-Bristol Science Centre; an educational charity with an aim to “make science accessible to all”, it opened in 2000, and welcomed over 5 million  visitors in the past 20 years. At-Bristol relaunched as We The Curious in September 2017, with a new vision that is committed to creating a culture of curiosity. 

 We The Curious is an idea and a place for everyone. Our venue on Bristol’s harbourside is a bit like an indoor festival, with all sorts of different experiences, where you can interact with exhibits, test stuff out and participate rather than just visit.  We’re all about empowering everyone to ask questions and get creative - with boundaries removed between science, art, people and ideas - a culture of curiosity. This year We The Curious is celebrating 20 years in Bristol. 

Inspiring Science Fund
The Inspiring Science Fund, a partnership between UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Wellcome, has invested £30 million in science centres across the UK, enabling them to revitalise their public offer and to develop more sustainable working practices for the future. New exhibitions and learning centres, alongside inclusive and creative community programmes, will inspire visitors to engage with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in fun and exciting new ways.  

Wellcome exists to improve health by helping great ideas to thrive. We support researchers, we take on big health challenges, we campaign for better science, and we help everyone get involved with science and health research. We are a politically and financially independent foundation. 


UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), brings together the 7 UK research councils, Innovate UK and a new organisation, Research England, working closely with its partner organisations in the devolved administrations of the UK Government. The scheme is co-funded by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Wellcome. 


*About the funding campaign
In addition to the support from the Inspiring Science Fund, Project What If has so far received generous support from: John James Bristol Foundation; The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851;  National Lottery Heritage Fund; Innovation 4 Growth; Nisbet Trust; Charles Hayward Foundation; Britford Bridge Trust; Kirby Laing Trust; Medlock Charitable Trust; National Lottery Awards For All, an anonymous funder and local individual donors.