The arts centre, which is the biggest single recipient of Arts Council funding, warned this morning that it faced a £5 million deficit, has run out of reserve, and may need to shutter its buildings up to and beyond April 2021.
What the Centre’s staff may regard as a disaster many would view as a gleaming opportunity.
The site is widely unloved among users, having relegated its core purpose of presenting classical music to a marginal activity.
This is the time for ACE to pull the plug and offer the South Bank on a public tender to private promoters. They cannot do worse than the SBC governors and administrators have done over the past 20 years.
Free the South Bank. It’s about time.
Here’s what the present (largely blameless) CEO has to say:
Elaine Bedell, Chief Executive, Southbank Centre, says:
“It is with an incredibly heavy heart that we today share further details about the future of the Southbank Centre. We know we are not alone in this and stand with our friends, partners, and colleagues – both here in the UK and abroad – during this time of unprecedented challenge.
With eight orchestras, the National Poetry Library, and Arts Council Collection all calling us home, and playing host to over 4.45 million visitors each year, we’re doing all we can to safeguard the Southbank Centre we currently know and love for the years ahead. However, this crisis has hit hard, and we join a number of other organisations and venues in sounding the alarm about the long-term health of UK arts and culture.
The Southbank Centre’s own history is traced directly to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Here, the post-war government recognised how vital arts and culture were to the health and well-being of a traumatised nation. Just as the South Bank was a focal point of social and economic recovery then, we hope that we’ll emerge from this crisis to an even brighter future, throwing our doors wide open once more.”