Tate Britain museum defends $52,000 paycheck for 'head of coffee' role

Tate Britain
TonyBaggett/ Getty

Tate Britain museum in London has attracted controversy over offering to pay a "head of coffee" £39,500 ($51,747), an amount greater than the average salary of an art curator based in the city.

The gallery advertised that the role, working 40 hours a week, would entail "sourcing, blending and roasting coffee," requiring that the ideal candidate have "extensive experience of cupping and espresso quality control."

The job advertisement has received backlash for paying more than the average £37,373 annual earnings of an art curator in London, according to jobs site Glassdoor.

Alan Leighton, national secretary of trade union Prospect, said the pay discrepancy was "a stark reminder, not that the head of coffee is paid too much but that highly qualified museum professionals are paid far too little."

He said that heritage-specific roles in the art industry were paid "appallingly" and this could not continue.

Leighton added: "Without these qualified specialist workers there would be no galleries and no museums. It's time that was recognized and those roles rewarded accordingly."

Artist Grayson Perry simply tweeted a newspaper snippet of the story with the words "I give up, they've won."

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The Tate defended the role's pay level by arguing that it was "unfair to compare a head of department with a curatorial role of a different level."

"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", a spokesperson added.