Statement from our Chief Executive
It’s now almost eight months since we were forced to close our doors to you. And it’s still heartbreakingly sad.
We are a place that exists to bring people together. Although we were excited to be able to open the Hayward Gallery over the summer, we could not have imagined that the rest of our venues would be closed to you for this long.
We’ve had a very difficult summer. In order to manage the implications of our continuing closure and the loss of £25m of our expected income (half our annual expenditure), we had to go through a redundancy and restructure process as a result of which we’ve sadly lost a large number of our amazing colleagues. It’s been a traumatic time for everyone involved and we understand how difficult it is for those who are leaving us.
We know that cultural organisations across the globe will continue to have a turbulent time over the next 12 – 18 months. Social distancing means that it’s very difficult to open our doors to visitors without incurring significant financial losses. This is due to the fact that the much reduced ticket income we can generate would not sufficiently cover our operational costs including enhanced safety measures, cleaning, hosting and so on.
As with many of our fellow arts organisations, we await a decision in the next few weeks as to whether we will receive support (in the form of repayable finance) from the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund. The measures we’ve taken since our closure mean that the Southbank Centre is now in a more financially resilient and adaptable position and any support we do receive will help us to face any ongoing and future challenges with more confidence.
The announcement of a second national lockdown means that we have had to cancel our proposed Winter Market on site and our food market, bars, cafes and restaurants also have to close for the duration of the lockdown. Clearly this is a further blow for us all and we hope to be able to reopen these from 2 December when the lockdown is hopefully lifted.
Inside Out & Winter Light
In the meantime, I’m very glad to be able to say that we will continue our online Inside Out series of concerts, talks and comedy events which are being streamed from the Royal Festival Hall and beyond. In addition, our site will be illuminated with lights this winter as part of a new Winter Light commission. Trees will be lit up along The Queen’s Walk, artworks placed in windows and foyer spaces, and installations on the rooftops and facades. Further information on Winter Light is due to be announced soon.
No Lockdown in the Imagination
No Lockdown in the Imagination is a Koestler Arts outdoor installation of artwork from prisons taking place across the windows of the Southbank Centre, and online from 12 November – 13 December 2020. On show will be a selection of audio, visual and written works selected from the 2020 Koestler Awards, the 58th annual Koestler Awards for people across the UK’s criminal justice system.
We can’t wait to welcome you back to the Southbank Centre as soon as possible. Nothing is more important to us than our most fundamental commitment: to bring great and unforgettable experiences of art to a wide and diverse public.
I’d like to thank our visitors, the artists we work with and our staff for the loyalty and patience they have shown whilst we work our way through this current situation and find a way to return to doing what we do best: presenting great art for everyone.