The Southbank Centre announces it is at risk of closure until at least April 2021, as a result of the economic impact of COVID-19, disclosing details of crippling financial pressure as its reserves run dry.
The charity states that it is forecasting a best case scenario of a £5m loss at the end of 2020/21 financial year. However, in arriving at this position, the organisation will have used up all its reserves and be in deficit, will have needed £4m support from the Government furlough scheme and will have used the remainder of its annual grant from Arts Council England to effectively mothball the buildings. There will be a need to make some staff redundant and the organisation will cease to be a going concern before the end of the year if further urgent support is not secured.
Despite being the UK’s largest arts and cultural organisation, the Southbank Centre confirms that there will be hardly any artistic activity throughout 2020/21 as to present anything like a normal range of events would have seen the losses rise to around £11m (after furlough support and ACE grant), given the restrictions that social distancing impose on the ability to realise workable ticket revenue.
As a key arts hub, the Centre works with international artists, gives a home to eight orchestras and supports grassroots cultural activity. An extensive creative learning programme reaches young people and families, the socially isolated, and those affected by homelessness, dementia and addiction. All of this work is now under significant threat.
With the likelihood of social-distancing measures remaining in place for many months to come, the venues are unlikely to be able to re-open until April 2021, as to do so on restricted capacities (30%) means the organisation would lose more money by opening than it would generate.
Image: Victor Frankowski