Statement from Southbank Centre’s Artistic Leaders

Southbank Centre exists to provide great artistic experiences for everyone

Through art, we invite our visitors to enjoy shared cultural encounters together. To gaze. To listen. To be moved. To discover a new idea or a new perspective.

We are proud that for the last 69 years, the performances and exhibitions here have moved millions. We have provided a home for art and for artists. A community centred on art, where everyone, no matter their job, helps make the experience.

We all came to the Southbank Centre to continue that mission. We are also acutely aware that we inherited a legacy of art and community, and that we have a responsibility to protect and preserve it for artists, audiences and visitors in the decades to come.

But now, thanks to the global pandemic, that legacy is threatened. Seriously threatened. To our horror, we are facing a situation where the very existence of Southbank Centre is at risk.

In the course of this financial year, we will lose £25m of our income. That’s about half of our total annual expenditure. We will also have used almost all of our available reserves.

We now face impossible choices. But we know we must act to assure the Southbank Centre’s future. Failing to do so would mean that we fall short of our founding principles to bring the arts to the public and the democratic vision of culture for everyone that is embedded in our iconic buildings.

Our choices are limited. We must radically reduce our expenditure. Sadly, that means job losses for many of the people in the Southbank Centre community. Losing so many devoted, creative and brilliant colleagues deeply affects each of us. Their absence will be profoundly felt.

We are committed to making sure that these painful steps contribute to the centre’s lasting legacy. The pandemic has revealed systemic failures across the whole arts and cultural sector. So, in addition to cutting costs, we are also exploring a refreshed operating model  that delivers more than ever before on our commitment to artistic excellence and our inclusive values.