Tuesday 8 September 2020 7:18 pm

Royal Albert Hall warns of 'bleak future' as it asks public for donations

The Royal Albert Hall is asking for £20m in donations from the public in a bid to survive the impact of the pandemic.

Since closing its doors in March, the venue has lost £18m in income and refunded over £6.5m in ticket sales. The chief executive has since warned it could go bust by March next year if it does not receive urgent financial support.

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The Albert Hall relies on revenue from events, annual contributions from seatholders and donations from organisations and members of the public.

It would ordinarily expect to make approximately £6m surplus each year.

The government announced a £1.57bn rescue package for the arts but the Albert Hall is ineligible for help. It has been advised to apply for a loan, which it will only receive in December.

Chief executive Craig Hassall said: “Six months on from enforced closure, and circa £18m down in lost income, we are not eligible for any of the Government’s emergency grants. This leaves us in an extremely perilous position, with no way of replacing our lost income, apart from a government loan which may or may not materialise.”

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“We raised concerns months ago about the potential for independent, unfunded organisations such as the Royal Albert Hall to miss out on government support, and especially having been held up by Government as a ‘crown jewel’ that must be saved. With millions of pounds of essential building work called to a halt owing to COVID we had hoped to be eligible for a capital grant but have been informed that, as we are not a portfolio of nationally spread sites, we are not eligible for this scheme.”

He added: “The Royal Albert Hall now faces a bleak future unless it can secure not only a repayable Government loan, but also urgent donations to plug our current £20m shortfall.”