Southbank Centre: ‘We could go bust without government support’

Josh Salisbury (26 May, 2020)

The Centre warned it may be forced to keep its doors closed until April 2021

35334The Royal Festival Hall - Image: Stephen Richards

The Southbank Centre may be forced to remain closed until April 2021, it warned this week, amid a projected £5m loss for 2020/21.

This bleak forecast is the centre’s best-case scenario for its finances during the pandemic.

In an update on how it is being affected by the orders for venues to close during the pandemic, the centre said it will have burned through its reserves by September.

The centre, the UK’s largest arts and cultural venue, said it was among the latest in industry to sound the alarm about its long-term future without more government support.

“It is with an incredibly heavy heart that we today share further details about the future of the Southbank Centre,” said chief executive, Elaine Bedell.

“We know we are not alone in this and stand with our friends, partners, and colleagues – both here in the UK and abroad – during this time of unprecedented challenge.

“We’re doing all we can to safeguard the Southbank Centre we currently know and love for the years ahead.

“However, this crisis has hit hard, and we join a number of other organisations and venues in sounding the alarm about the long-term health of UK arts and culture.”

The organisation, which runs the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Royal Festival Hall, said it will have used £4m of support from the government’s furlough scheme, and warned redundancies may be needed in the future.

It also said that it had used the remainder of its grant from Arts Council England to maintain the upkeep of its buildings.

Without further government support, the SE1 institution said it may cease to be a going concern in the near future.

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