Unions: ‘Southbank Centre could miss out on Government’s £1.5bn bailout fund’

Josh Salisbury (21 July, 2020)

The Unite union claims the Centre is not in line for significant funding from the Government's £1.5bn package

35334The Royal Festival Hall - Image: Stephen Richards

The Southbank Centre could miss out on the government’s £1.5bn bailout fund, according to unions, raising the prospect of ‘huge’ job losses at the institution.

The arts centre, the UK’s largest of its kind, has already warned up to 400 employees could be up for redundancy out of a workforce of 577.

The Unite union claims the centre is not due to be eligible for the government industry bailout, saying it would be a “national disgrace” if the centre didn’t get a significant share of the fund.

But the Southbank Centre said it was still waiting to hear for more details about the emergency funding.

“The Southbank Centre is the UK largest arts complex and a jewel in the crown of London’s cultural scene – the prospect of it not receiving any financial support from the government’s £1.57 billion rescue package for the arts would be a national disgrace,” said Unite’s regional officer, Rose Keeping.

“Although some redundancies were not unexpected, we are appalled at the huge numbers at the Southbank Centre who may lose their jobs.”

The PCS Union said it would “fight” to protect jobs at the organisation, hundreds of which are currently undergoing through the redundancy consultation.

“The Southbank Centre is so important for working class access to the arts,” said the union’s Steven Warwick.

“We will work closely with Unite to fight to save the jobs of those hundreds of staff, who have made the Southbank Centre one of the jewels in the crown of UK culture.”

But the centre said it was still waiting to find out if it could apply to the grants and what they would entail.

“Our ability to reopen our venues is currently still linked to the removal of any form of social distancing but we will wait to see if the rescue package provides any level of support that could change that position,” said a spokesperson.

The centre’s seated venues, which include the Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall, are likely to remain closed until April 2021 because of social distancing requirements.

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