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Top venues in call for help

4 June 2020

ECHOING THE stark challenges facing venues across the country, operators of two of London’s most prestigious concert halls have called for increased government support to prevent them from closure.

Royal Albert Hall CEO Craig Hassall has warned that the 5,200-capacity venue will be unable to operate under the government’s proposed guidelines following the lifting of lockdown, which would see show attendees having to stay two metres apart while bars and restaurants remained closed.

Operators of the Southbank Centre, which includes the Royal Festival Hall (2,780), Queen Elizabeth Hall (915) and Purcell Room (293), say the venues are at risk of closure until at least April 2021 due to financial reserves running dry as a result of the economic impact of Covid-19.

The Southbank Centre was closed on 17 March and the majority of staff have been furloughed, but its operating charitable trust is forecasting a loss of at least £5 million at the end of the 2020/21 financial year.

The charity is calling for an extension beyond October of the furlough scheme for arts sector employees, and a “large scale intervention” from government to further support the sector.

“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,” says the Centre’s CEO Elaine Bedell.

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