The Royal Festival Hall’s Level 2 foyer spaces are currently being refurbished, as we work to bring you a brand new cafe, bar, shop and Ticket Office. Find out more

Southbank Centre – Coronavirus update

Due to the coronavirus crisis, our venues are currently closed. Here is an update from our Chief Executive, Elaine Bedell:

MON 28 JUL, 2020

We would like to thank our visitors, the artists we work with and our staff for the loyalty and patience they have shown while we work out a way to return to doing what we do best: presenting great art for everyone.

The challenge we face

The impact of the virus means that we have now lost a catastrophic 60% of our income, which comes from ticket sales, corporate events, the restaurants, bars and shops across our site.

We are grateful to Arts Council England for our annual grant, which represents 37% of our income; however, most of this is used to look after our 11-acre National Heritage estate and buildings, which we manage and maintain on behalf of the government.

It’s not possible to maintain these iconic buildings and deliver our arts and community programmes without the blend of additional income we generate for ourselves.

Why reopening soon is difficult

One of the biggest barriers to reopening our venues is the continuation of social distancing. Even a reduced one-metre rule means that we would only be able to sell around 30–40% of tickets. To reopen under these terms would only make our financial situation worse.

The show must go on

Despite the uncertainty and financial pressure we face, we want to continue to offer access to art as much as possible. We have been sharing great blogs, interviews, playlists and features via our weekly Your culture fix emails and across social media.

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In addition, we are continuing to combat social isolation with our new national programme: Art by Post brings specially created art activities to the people who are most affected by the current social distancing measures, including older adults living with dementia and other chronic health conditions.

Next steps

The National Poetry Library remains the beating heart of the Southbank Centre, and although the library which is housed in the Royal Festival Hall is currently closed while social distancing measures remain in place, we are continuing to expand the poetry collection so there will be more to enjoy when the library reopens next year. The library's much loved email enquiry service is back online from mid-September. 

From 17 September - 30 December, the Southbank Centre will present an Autumn season of over 40 multi-arts events in our Inside Out series. The programme will bring music, literature, and comedy back to the Royal Festival Hall for the first time since closure on 17 March. We also want to continue to work with schools as they reopen, and, in doing all of this, we want to support as many artists as we can. If you feel that you are able to make a donation, no matter how small, we would be extremely grateful

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We will update you as our plans develop and as it becomes clearer when we may be able to reopen. In the meantime, we look forward to the time when we can all be together again enjoying cultural experiences in our wonderful venues.’

Thank you for your support.

Some of our venues have now reopened, see full details