The Southbank Centre in London is facing closure until at least April 2021 and has warned it will have used all of its reserves by the end of the financial year, as it becomes the latest major arts organisation to call for urgent government support.
In a statement outlining how the pandemic has impacted its operations, the Southbank Centre said it was forecasting a best case scenario of £5 million of losses by the end of the 2020/21 financial year.
However, to achieve this it said it will have needed £4 million support from the Government’s furlough scheme and will have used the remainder of its £19.2m annual grant from Arts Council England to effectively mothball its buildings.
It warned that the organisation would “cease to be a going concern before the end of the year if further urgent support is not secured” and added there will be staff redundancies if additional support is not possible.
The Southbank Centre’s annual Arts Council England grant represents 37% of its income and it said the mandatory closure of the venue’s bars and restaurants had led to the “immediate and catastrophic loss of 60% of its income”.
It said there would 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 £11 million", given the “restrictions that social distancing impose on the ability to realise workable ticket revenue”.
Wile social-distancing measures remains in place, its venues are unlikely to be able to re-open until April 2021, it added, claiming restricting audience capacity would see the organisation lose more money by opening than it could generate.
Warning that all of its output - including the work of its eight orchestras and learning programmes - is under “significant threat”, it called on the government to provide more support, including extending the furloughing scheme until October, developing a large-scale “intervention to support the arts sector as it navigates this crisis" and support for self-employed artists and musicians who do not qualify under the current financial support schemes.
Chief executive Elaine Bedell said the centre joined "a number of other organisations and venues in sounding the alarm about the long-term health of UK arts and culture".
“It is with an incredibly heavy heart that we today share further details about the future of the Southbank Centre. 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," she said.
The announcement comes as the Southbank Centre makes preparations to cancel events from September to November 2020. The organisation said it was considering the option of broadcasting concerts from behind closed-doors from the autumn to spring next year.