Albert Hall’s public plea for £20m rescue

The Royal Albert Hall is appealing for public donations worth £20m to ensure its survival.

Despite being designated one of the nation’s “crown jewels” by culture secretary Oliver Dowden, the hall, a charity receiving no government subsidy, is ineligible for a grant from the £1.57bn arts and heritage rescue package announced in July. It can, however, apply for a loan.

The hall, where this year’s audience-less Last Night of the Proms will be broadcast from on Saturday, has lost £18m since its enforced lockdown in March and today is scheduled to give evidence to the Commons select culture committee.

The hall’s CEO Craig Hassell said it had been left in an extremely perilous situation, unable to replace lost income and dependent on a government loan that may or may not materialise.

“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” he said. “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.

“We are fortunate to have supportive members and private donors who have given generously, but unfortunately, the ‘Rescue Package’ fanfare has given many potential donors the false sense that we are being sufficiently supported elsewhere” said Hassell. 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.” 


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