The Southbank Centre declares perilous position

The Southbank Centre has said COVID-19 has put it in a perilous financial position – and warned that it could remained closed until April 2021.

Currently the London arts centre estimates it will lose GBP5m (€5.6m) this year. If this prediction comes true, then it will require additional money from Arts Council England to keep going.

Commented chief executive Elaine Bedell: “With eight orchestras, the National Poetry Library, and Arts Council Collection all calling us home, and playing host to over 4.45 million visitors each year, 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 Southbank Centre’s own history is traced directly to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Here, the post-war government recognised how vital arts and culture were to the health and well-being of a traumatised nation. Just as the South Bank was a focal point of social and economic recovery then, we hope that we’ll emerge from this crisis to an even brighter future, throwing our doors wide open once more.”

In a statement, The Southbank Centre called on the Government to:

  • Extend the furlough scheme beyond October for the cultural sector
  • Develop a large scale intervention to support the arts sector as it navigates this crisis and which helps it survive and plan for the future
  • Support those self-employed artists and musicians who do not qualify under the current financial support schemes.