South Bank closures lose the economy £330m

The pandemic closure of five arts institutions on London’s South Bank have cost the UK economy £330m, according to a new report.

The five – the National Theatre, Rambert, the Southbank Centre, the Old  and the Young Vic – have lost more than 70% of their usual income according to the report, Engine of Recovery: Culture on the South Bank and Waterloo, commissioned by the London Borough of Lambeth and South Bank BID with research conducted by Hatch.

The report also found that visits to the South Bank dropped from 5.6 million to 50,000 in the 2020/21 financial year, only 1% of visits came from overseas compared to 43% pre-Covid, together the institutions secured £35.8m of emergency funding through the Culture Recovery Fund, £30.6m of which was in the form of loans and seven out of eight of all staff were furloughed.

"This report throws into stark relief not only how important the five institutions are as centres of artistic excellence and social inclusion, but also as major employers, magnets for tourism and contributors to the national economy” says the report’s foreword. 

"Although it paints a somewhat gloomy picture about the havoc that the pandemic has wrought, the good news is that the cluster has so far been resilient. 

"Through determination and inventiveness – as well as vital government support through the Cultural Recovery Fund – it has continued to give succour to people when society has been at its lowest ebb for generations, a beacon in the darkness."

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