Let The Light In FAQs

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Discover why Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery are being refurbished.

Let The Light In project
Why are Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery being refurbished?

Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room opened in 1967 and the Hayward Gallery in 1968 and at the time were considered state-of-the-art. Renowned for their architectural significance, the buildings are a much-loved part of Southbank Centre’s 21-acre site alongside Royal Festival Hall. 

With no significant maintenance since the buildings opened, facilities have become worn out and outdated and are no longer up to the world-class standard that audiences and artists expect and deserve. Furthermore behind the scenes, production, technical and core plant equipment is outdated, inefficient and in urgent need of renewal. 

The buildings closed their doors in September 2015 in order for essential refurbishment and maintenance work to happen. They will reopen to the public in early 2018

What is the aim of the refurbishment and maintenance project?

Building on the refurbishment of the Royal Festival Hall, our aim is to breathe new life into Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery, and make the buildings work properly and efficiently for the first time. 

The refurbishment project will celebrate the buildings’ remarkable architectural and cultural heritage and restore facilities for artists and audiences to world-class standards.

This essential work will be the first step in our longer-term plans to transform this part of our site and create major new cultural and educational facilities for everyone.

What improvements will there be in Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room auditoria?

We will bring performance spaces and facilities in Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room up to international standards for audiences and artists, including:

  • Enhancing acoustics with modern technical and production equipment in the auditoria
  • Increasing technical capacity by installing new lighting and sound equipment
  • Reupholstering the iconic 1960s black leather seats in the auditoria
How will artists benefit from the refurbishment in Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room?

The refurbishment project will give artists who perform at Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room the exceptional facilities they deserve and expect, including:

  • Refurbishing dressing rooms and new accessible dressing rooms
  • Refurbishing the green room and Artists’ Bar
  • Creating a brand new, welcoming Artists’ Entrance
  • Upgrading technical and backstage equipment
What improvements will there be in Queen Elizabeth Hall foyer?

Queen Elizabeth Hall foyer is both a place to congregate and relax and a flexible artistic space for our popular free Friday evening music series, Friday Tonic, as well as for talks and debates. The space is currently dark and unwelcoming; the facilities as a social space and also for performances are out of date and the fixtures and fittings are worn out. It’s time to refresh the foyer so it’s restored to a clean, bright and welcoming space for all our visitors. 

Improvements will include:

  • New glazing on the front corner to flood the foyer with natural light and give views of the river
  • A new and bigger cafe/bar in a new location
  • Improved access to the buildings and auditoria with automatic doors
  • Refurbished toilets and cloakroom
  • Installing new air conditioning and heating
  • The box office will be returned to its original location inside the main doors
  • The foyer stage will be moved to the side of the foyer so that the whole original space will be usable
And what’s happening behind the scenes in Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room?

Behind the scenes of Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room, the production, technical and core plant equipment that is essential to keeping the building running and welcoming for visitors and artists is outdated, inefficient and in critical need of renewal. The wiring, plumbing and drainage works in these buildings haven’t been updated since the 1960s so it’s time for them to be upgraded so they’re functionable for the 21st century.

 

What have you done about access within the foyers, auditoria and backstage?

Access improvements within Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room include:

  • Powered door operation is being added to Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer main entrance doors
  • The new foyer café bar, interval bar and ticket desk are being designed with lowered accessible sections
  • A more direct route to the accessible WC in the Queen Elizabeth Hall foyer
  • Two new accessible dressing rooms are being added as part of the new artists’ entrance
  • The new artists’ bar is being designed with a lowered accessible section
What improvements will there be in Hayward Gallery?

Hayward Gallery’s 66 pyramid roof lights are one of its most distinctive features but have never worked as intended and, in recent years, leaks through the glass meant a false ceiling was installed in the upper galleries which reduced the height by several metres.

The focus of the Hayward Gallery refurbishment will be to remove this false ceiling that restricts natural light in the upper galleries, and replace the iconic pyramid roof lights to transform the experience of the hundreds of thousands of visitors we welcome every year.

Other elements of the refurbishment include:

  • Replacing the gallery’s stone floors
  • Repaving the sculpture terraces to reduce puddles
  • Installing new climate control and other essential building services
Why do you need to do these works now?

Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery have welcomed millions of visitors and artists over the years and put simply, they have been loved too much. Since they opened, they’ve not had enough care and attention so they are worn out, decaying and in poor condition. 

If these refurbishment works didn’t go ahead, the buildings would struggle to host world-class performances by acclaimed artists and our audiences would have a poor experience when they visit. 

The buildings would eventually fall into disrepair - that’s why it’s absolutely essential that these works happen now, so they are preserved for the future.

When is the project going to finish?

We plan to open the buildings to the public in early 2018.

Who are the architects?

Southbank Centre appointed FCBStudios to refurbish Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery.

Fundraising
You have to raise £25 million in support of Let The Light In. Where will this money come from?

The refurbishment project has been funded by Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund and through the generous support of trusts and foundations, individuals and Southbank Centre friends.

We launched the Let The Light In campaign to raise £3.9 million and now have less than £900,000 left to raise so we can transform these buildings for the reopening in 2018 and for future generations to enjoy.

What is Let The Light In and why was it necessary?

As a registered charity, we are seeking the support of trusts and foundations, individuals and our audiences to support the two-year capital refurbishment project, and launched the Let The Light In campaign to raise the final £3.9 million required.

We have less than £900,000 left to raise over the next two years so we can transform these buildings ready for reopening in 2018. We could not have achieved this without the generosity of our friends and supporters, and are grateful for their continued support.

Why should I support Let The Light In?

As a registered charity, we are asking you, our loyal supporters and visitors to help us raise the remaining £900,000 to make these essential works possible so we can breathe new life into Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery.

Millions of people have fond memories of performances and exhibitions in these arts venues. Many performances in these venues are also free, giving opportunities for everyone to enjoy and experience the arts

Your support really will make a difference, and will help to preserve these buildings and the opportunities they promise for generations to come.

When do you need to reach the £25m fundraising target?

We have asked for all pledges to be fulfilled by December 2017.

Can I support by paying via Direct Debit?

Yes of course. Please call the Development department on 020 7921 0801 to set-up your Direct Debit.

Donations
How can I donate to Let The Light In?

We have less than £900,000 left to raise so we can transform Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery for the reopening in 2018 and for future generations to enjoy.

Every donation, however big or small, will make a difference to the campaign and will help us get over the line and finish the refurbishment project.

You can choose to support Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room or Hayward Gallery.

Or you can simply put your loose change into one of our on-site donation boxes in the Royal Festival Hall Level 2 foyer, cloakroom or Festival Terrace shop.

What other ways can I support Let The Light In?

There are several ways you can choose to support the Let The Light In campaign, including:

  • Sponsor a Hayward Gallery roof light as a collective or individual
  • Name a Seat in Queen Elizabeth Hall or Purcell Room auditoria from just £150
  • Round-up your booking amount to support the campaign when you call the Southbank Centre box office.
  • Give via the donation boxes in Royal Festival Hall
  • Buy exclusive Let The Light In jewellery from Southbank Centre’s Festival Terrace or online shop. All proceeds go to the campaign.
Can I Gift Aid my donation?

Absolutely. Under the Gift Aid scheme, you can increase the value of your donation to Southbank Centre by 25% at no extra cost to you because Southbank Centre can claim Gift Aid at the basic income tax rate.

Name a Seat
How can I name a seat?

From just £150, you can Name a Seat in Queen Elizabeth Hall or Purcell Room auditoria and support our Let The Light In fundraising campaign.

For donations of £150-£2000, you will have a plaque on the armrest of the seat with your name, or that of a friend or family member, plus an additional personal message for a loved one, for at least ten years. If you name a premium aisle seat you will have two plaques.

The plaques will be installed in time for the reopening celebrations in 2017. You will receive a certificate with details of the seat/s you have sponsored and will be amongst the first to see the refurbished buildings and of course, your chosen seat/s.

For gifts of £1,000 or more you will also be invited to a hard hat tour to see for yourself the work taking place.

Please note that Southbank Centre reserves the right to approve and adjust final messaging on your plaque.

What type of acknowledgement am I allowed to use for naming a seat?

You can have one name of up to 25 characters and an additional personal message for a loved one of up to 90 characters on the plaque of your chosen seat.

Please note that Southbank Centre reserves the right to approve and adjust final messaging on your plaque.

Naming opportunities
How can I sponsor a Hayward Gallery roof light?

We would be delighted if you would consider supporting the Let The Light In campaign by making a one-off donation, or a contribution over a number of years, to sponsor one of the 66 iconic Hayward Gallery pyramid roof lights. You can sponsor a pyramid from £10,000 or £25,000 and in gratitude for the difference your contribution will make, we would be delighted to offer involvement and acknowledgment in a number of ways.

To find out more about supporting a roof light, please do not hesitate to contact Joanna Newell - joanna.newell@southbankcentre.co.uk or telephone 020 7921 0995 for more details.

What other naming opportunities are there?

We would be delighted if you would consider supporting the Let The Light In campaign by making a one-off donation, or a contribution over a number of years, to name one of the areas below:

  • Artists’ Entrance - donation level £250,000
  • Refurbished Green Room - donation level £150,000
  • Artists’ Bar - donation level £100,000
  • Dressing Room - donation level £30,000

With each naming opportunity we will work with you to create a bespoke package of benefits.

To find out more, please do not hesitate to contact Joanna Newell - joanna.newell@southbankcentre.co.uk or telephone 020 7921 0995 for more details.

Other frequently asked questions
I would like to give feedback on the project. How can I do this?

Thank you. Please email letthelightin@southbankcentre.co.uk 

What's happened with car parking at Southbank Centre?

Hayward Gallery Car Park is currently closed for two years from September 2015 while the refurbishment project is taking place.

We encourage travel by public transport during this period. Alternative parking is available nearby at the National Theatre Car Park and Coin Street Car Park, subject to charges. Free parking in the National Theatre car park is available to Blue Badge holders visiting Southbank Centre.

Blue Badge holders and those with access requirements can be dropped off on the Queen Elizabeth Hall slip road off Belvedere Road (the road between Royal Festival Hall and Hayward Gallery).

What is the Southbank Centre Archive Studio?

Southbank Centre received a £4.9m award from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the refurbishment project, which also supports our largest ever public heritage programme, including the creation of the Southbank Centre Archive Studio in the Royal Festival Hall foyer.

The Southbank Centre Archive collects, manages and preserves information, documents and artefacts relating to events and exhibitions held at Southbank Centre. It documents the artistic work that has taken place over several decades in Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, Hayward Gallery and the outdoor spaces around the Southbank Centre site. 

You’re invited to get involved in its organisation and preservation by joining our volunteer team, taking part in a drop-in session or through our ‘Meet the Archive’ events and workshops, where you can get hands-on experience.

Find out more about the Archive Studio

What is your data protection policy?

Southbank Centre is committed to protecting your privacy. We will use the information that we collect about you in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.