Southbank Centre receives millions in funding for "backlog of repairs"

Central London cultural venue the Southbank Centre has been granted funding from Arts Council England to address a "backlog of repairs" that runs into the millions.

The centre occupies 21 acres in central London
The centre occupies 21 acres in central London

A total of £16.7m from Arts Council England will address repairs estimated to cost £24m. The work will be carried out on three event spaces - the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Purcell Room and the Haywood Gallery.

The grant equates to 70% of funds needed for the full repairs to be carried out. The centre said the extra money will come from trusts, philanthropists and audiences.

The conservation project will aim to improve essential services, environmental performance, infrastructure and disabled access, alongside restoring the buildings’ interiors and exterior terraces. The Haymarket Gallery Pyramid Roof will also be replicated to improve lighting in the venue.

Alan Davey, chief executive of Arts Council England, said: "The Arts Council is pleased to be able to safeguard the future of this vital part of London’s artistic and tourist infrastructure through this capital grant.

"This grant will enable the Southbank to carry out essential work to enhance its existing space, giving it the right buildings to deliver its fantastic artistic and cultural programme and to bring multiple benefits to the millions of visitors the centre attracts each year."

The Southbank Centre is also looking to fund plans for a Festival Wing, which will provide a new space for art and culture. It will work with the British Film Council, the National Theatre, the Greater London Authority and Lambeth Council and expects to make recommendations on the scheme later in the year.

Rick Haythornthwaite, chairman of the Southbank Centre, said: "We are very grateful to Arts Council England for so generously supporting the urgent repair and maintenance of these iconic 60s buildings. This is an important step for Southbank Centre following the delay to our Festival Wing scheme in February.

"We still aim to create new space for our artistic and cultural programmes, once we have found a way through the substantial remaining funding challenge. This will enable us to meet the huge demand for our work following the refurbishment of Royal Festival Hall."

The repair works were originally covered by a £120m plan to improve the venues, however these were scuppered after Mayor of London Boris Johnson backed the campaign to keep a skate park, which is located underneath the buildings, open for skaters.

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