It is with great sadness that Town Hall and Symphony Hall have entered a period of redundancy consultation, following an extended period of closure as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic. Half of our staff are now at risk of redundancy.
The future of these two iconic concert halls, and the music charity responsible for them, looks very different from the plans we began the year with. Though we have been awarded emergency relief funding by Arts Council England, it remains the case that all other income generated through the core business of live music and entertainment has stopped. This period of closure has already resulted in huge losses and it is still unclear as to when it may be possible to re-open. In order to have a chance of survival we must now take the painful decision to reduce our staff in anticipation of the continuing uncertainty ahead.
We have responded to the challenge of declining public subsidy through the unwavering enterprise and spirit of our team. The announcement today is all the more painful because of this. Over the last few years we have evolved into an organisation that earns more than 90% of its turnover from our trading activities and this supports every aspect of what we do, from presenting international superstars on our stages to supporting emerging talent and creating first musical experiences for children in local schools. Our vulnerability to the current closure is a direct consequence of a business model that is less reliant on public subsidy than most.
In order to have any chance of survival we desperately need a time-based reopening strategy from the government and the funding to reach that point. Making an Entrance, our £13.2million transformation of Symphony Hall, is approaching completion and poised to reconnect the city through music. The government must now give the cultural sector a proper road map, and allow us to play our part in rebuilding the City’s cultural and community life following this pandemic.