Arts Council raises alarm at collapse in South Bank audience

Arts Council raises alarm at collapse in South Bank audience


norman lebrecht

September 03, 2018

The ACE reports that visits to its National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) fell by 16.6 million between 2015/16 and 2016/17.

London was worst hit with a 28% drop.

‘The Southbank Centre reported the largest drop in total attendances across the whole portfolio, approximately 80% of which were exhibition attendances….’

Now ou know why heads have been rolling south of the river.



  • erich says:

    Hey Jude….useless apparatchik .

  • A Nonny Mouse says:

    How extraordinary that Southbank’s exhibition attendance should drop exactly when its main exhibition space, the Hayward Gallery, was shut for refurbishment (Sept 15 – Jan 18).

  • Mark Pemberton says:

    The crucial words here are “exhibition attendances”. As ACE has clarified, “Southbank Centre (Hayward Gallery) and Plymouth Museums (part of the consortium led by Royal Albert Memorial Museum) saw closures for renovation which significantly affected their attendance figures for 2016/17”. So it’s not surprising Southbank Centre had a significant drop in attendances, as the Hayward Gallery was closed all year!

  • Mike Schachter says:

    Would be more interested to know what happened to concert attendances, again allowing for the fact that the QEH and the Purcell Room only quite recently reopened.

  • Adrienne says:

    I walked through the SBC a couple of weeks ago. Lots of people wandering around, which seems to be the management’s main objective these days.

    I was struck, however, that on the ground floor of the RFH there were few clues about what actually goes on upstairs. I don’t suppose that elitist stuff matters so long as you can get a mediocre, overpriced hamburger next door.

    • SVM says:

      Indeed; some venues seem to have lost sight of their /raison d’être/ (the Barbican has really gone downhill: the auditorium often has an irritating buzzing noise or, worse, noise leaking from outside; moreover, the loss of suits from the ushers’ uniforms in favour of those ghastly t-shirts makes for a highly unprofessional appearance). Personally, I think there is something to be said for the electric atmosphere of being inside a building where *everybody* is there for the performance (as opposed to the overpriced refreshments or the free wi-fi). In London, two venues that really fit the bill are Covent Garden (although they are “opening up” their building, so I am not sure how much longer this special excitement will linger in the building) and the Wigmore Hall (strictly speaking, you do not usually need a ticket to enter the building and/or use the café, but the foyer area is relatively small, and thus unlikely to get taken-over by non-concertgoers, which is just as well, because the foyer area is not acoustically isolated from the auditorium — on the few occasions I have been late for a concert, I could still hear something from the foyer, albeit not enough to really appreciate the performance properly).

  • Charles B says:

    It is a shame that the RFH foyer, most nights, has the ambience of a local Wetherspoon’s, rather than a premier classical music venue.