Thursday 16 July 2020 12:36 pm

Southbank Centre to slash 400 jobs as coronavirus hammers the arts

The Southbank Centre, has confirmed 400 jobs are at risk as it enters into talks with staff in an attempt to reduce losses caused by the coronavirus crisis.

The UK’s largest arts complex, situated on the River Thames in Waterloo, said that it will make around two thirds of its staff redundant, after months of closure hammered its bottom line.

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A spokesperson for the group 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.”

“The Southbank Centre must implement measures to reduce its cost base and develop new ways of operating and delivering its artistic programme when it is finally able to reopen,” the spokesperson added.

The redundancies are expected to be made across the organisation’s outlets, which include London venues the Hayward Gallery, the Royal Festival Hall, as well as the National Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection. 

The job cuts, which will affect all levels of the organisation,  are subject to a 45-day consultation period. 

In May the Southbank Centre said it could face a £5.1m loss for the 2020/21 financial year as a result of the pandemic. The organisation has furloughed the majority of its 600 employees during lockdown after its venues were forced to shutter.

The government’s announcement of a £1.57bn support package for the arts sector earlier this week has done little to stem job losses at many of the UK’s arts venues. 

The Tate and National Gallery last week announced they would axe hundreds of jobs in their commercial arms, as months of closure during the pandemic continues to weigh on the UK’s arts and culture sector.

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The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) warned that more than 200 jobs could be cut at Tate Enterprises, the gallery group’s commercial subsidiary which operates retail, catering and publishing services across the four Tate galleries in London, Liverpool and St Ives. 

The National Gallery Company (NGC), the group that manages the London gallery’s shops, publications and events hire said it is considering axing 24 out the firm’s 88 employees, adding that it “will need to be a leaner, tighter organisation to withstand the prospect of reduced revenues in the next few years”. 

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