Southbank Centre warns two-thirds of jobs are at risk due to COVID-19
The Southbank Centre, the largest arts complex in Europe, has warned it may have to make two-thirds of its staff redundant due to the coronavirus crisis.
Situated on the River Thames in Waterloo, the London venue has said 400 out of 600 jobs at all levels are at risk as, although the government is supporting the arts sector with £1.57bn of financial aid, it is not enough.
In a letter to members, the centre – which houses the Hayward Gallery – said its forecasts show it is “likely to be facing very significant losses by the end of this financial year”.
The letter, by chief executive Elaine Bedell, Hayward Gallery director Ralph Rugoff and director of music Gillian Moore, said staff had been informed on Wednesday.
One of the “most significant factors” in making the decision, it added, is that the Hayward Gallery can only reopen with reduced capacity from the end of July.
And the centre’s seated venues “could remain closed until well into 2021 due to social distancing”.
The redundancies are expected to be made across the organisation’s sites, which also include the Royal Festival Hall, the National Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection.
“We must immediately implement measures to reduce our cost base and develop new ways of operating and delivering our artistic programme when we are finally able to reopen,” the letter said.
“As you can imagine, this is devastating news for all our staff.”
The centre explained that the number of jobs at risk is so high as it has a policy of every member of staff having “the security of a minimum-hours contract”, with nobody employed on a “casual or zero-hours basis”.
It said it was “proud to be a London Living Wage employer”.
Members have been asked to make a donation, which the letter said would make a “huge difference”.
Back in May, the Southbank Centre said it could face a £5.1m loss for the 2020-21 financial year due to the pandemic, and the majority of its employees were furloughed during lockdown as its venues were forced to shut.
Last week, the Tate and National Gallery announced they would cut hundreds of jobs in their commercial sectors.