Arts crash: South Bank cuts 391 jobs out of 577

Arts crash: South Bank cuts 391 jobs out of 577


norman lebrecht

August 04, 2020

London’s South Bank Centre has entered ‘redundancy consultations’ with staff, from which there is only one way out.

A lot of people will pay with their livelihoods for the Centre’s unexplained debt load and its board’s prolonged incompetence.

A spokesperson said: ‘It is with great sadness that the Southbank Centre announced that up to 400 roles have been put at risk of redundancy as part of a comprehensive management action plan designed to stem the financial losses being incurred as a result of Covid-19, and to help safeguard the future of the UK’s largest arts centre.’

We share that sadness.

However, it is reported that when the Centre reopens in 2021 it will operate with an entirely new operating structure, based, according to senior management, on a ‘start-up’. Staff have been told that the centre’s programme of contemporary art exhibitions, classical and contemporary music and literature events will be allocated just 10% of capacity across its venues with 90% reserved for rental.

That represents a degree of short-term positive rethinking.


  • PHF says:


  • Henry williams says:

    They have wasted all the money they have received in the past.

    • stephen moore says:

      As a punter, living in London, the SBC has been a fantastic resource for me across a wide range of arts events for all of my life. To dismiss the place as you have just done demands some explanation. Why do you believe that the SBC ‘have wasted all the money they have received in the past’. You may be right, but you need to back up your assertion with evidence.

      • Norbert says:

        The whole dump should have been blown-up years ago.

        Architectural merit – my arse.

        Prime central london riverside real-estate and a 1950’s concrete lump sitting on it, surrounded by the ugliest, most unfriendly estate of similarly concrete awfulness.

        Rude staff too…….oh SO rude……

  • Bob Goldsmith says:

    And presumably the LPO and Philharmonia are now locked out of their concert venue until April, unable to perform in London. So much for being Associate Orchestras.

    • Alexander Hall says:

      Southbank Centre have never cared much in the past; why should they now? Meanwhile German concert venues and resident orchestras there are returning to modest events (with repeat concerts on the same day and without intervals) with appropriate social distancing and reduced audiences. Why are we in the UK being denied the same because of Southbank incompetence and lack of imagination?

      • Henry williams says:

        The only good thing about the RFH is that the box office manager was a
        Customer of the book shop where i worked . He occasionally gave complimentary tickets.

      • Stephen Diviani says:

        If you read newspapers and kept up with the latest news – difficult given the way this absurd government flip flops every five seconds – you would know that performances inside are currently banned by the UK government. If the SBC gave any performance in any of their venues they would be prosecuted. Do keep up!

  • Rick Jones says:

    There’s been a lot of furore online about the 90/10 split. But we should take comfort, I’d have thought, from the fact that the resident orchestras are treated as rentals and therefore part of the 90. The ‘startup’ terminology isn’t helpful. It’ll be more alarming if/when the organisations who traditionally deliver the majority of their work themselves (unlike SBC) start using this sort of language.

  • BP says:

    So what does this mean for the Centre’s resident orchestras ? People seem to disagree.

    • Tone row says:

      maybe the orchestras can return it to a classical music venue, and also rehearse where they perform; even the education events presented by the resident orchestras are leagues ahead of the woke drivel put on by the SBC. Took the sprogs to the SBC children’s spring festival year before last – artistic/cultural content: zilch. Take a look at the current Southbank “Your Culture Fix” emails – one could be totally unaware that it’s a flipping Concert Hall…!

      • Stephen Diviani says:

        It was never intended to be an exclusively ‘classical music venue’. That’s why the London Country Council architects included a ballroom in the RFH, where weekly dances were held from 1951, and still are held. Or were when it was opened. It is wrong to blame arts venues for remaining closed and
        musicians/actors/dancers/singers for not performing. The blame should rest with this lousy government and the DCMS, led by a total *^&”*!

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    We will hear yet more of things like this. People haven’t yet realized that the opportunity cost of keeping alive the elderly cohort has meant and will continue to mean an international Depression and horrendous long term unemployment. Eye-watering debt levels obviously aren’t enough to prick people into reality.

    • V. Lind says:

      Do you actually live among human beings? Do they listen to you? More unlikely, do you ever listen to them?

      I am mystified as to where you ever formed your worldview. The mirror?