It is with great sadness that Town Hall and Symphony Hall have today 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.
Nick Reed, Chief Executive for Town Hall Symphony Hall said:
“This is heart-breaking news to share. We have a superb team of staff who care passionately about what they do and who openly share their love of live music with everyone that we connect with as a music charity. The digital activities we have continued to deliver in these desperate times are testament to that, sharing music from our halls, artists homes and venues from across the continent. Music has the power to bring people together and it fills me with great sadness that we remain unable to bring people together in our halls.
Our thoughts are very much with the employees and their families that will be affected by this decision, as well as the numerous freelance musicians and artists who have been impacted by this global pandemic.”
Anita Bhalla, Chair of the Board for the music charity responsible for Town Hall and Symphony Hall said:
“Along with the executive team, I continue to demand clearer guidance from the government on the detail of the grants and loans available and clearer guidelines for re-opening our cities cultural institutions. Despite improving the reserves of our music charity in recent years, due to the hard-work of our staff, this unprecedented global pandemic will have long term ramifications for our business. We have seen a vast number of redundancies across the arts and culture sector and it saddens me that we are today joining that long list. This is a difficult and sad time for all.”
Those affected have been contacted and no final decision for redundancies we will be made until the consultation process has been completed.
Town Hall Symphony Hall’s mission is to inspire a love of live music, through performance, participation and learning. Managed together by Performances Birmingham Limited, a Registered Charity No 1053937, Town Hall and Symphony Hall are the centre of Birmingham’s cultural heart – presenting the world’s most exciting and diverse artists, orchestras and bands, including Kraftwerk, The British Paraorchestra of Great Britain, Satinder Sartaaj, Chineke!, Gary Barlow, Joan Armatrading and the world-renowned City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
We believe that music is essential to everyone and has the power to transform and change lives, to entertain and uplift, to create shared experiences and to educate.
Each year, we programme nearly 800 concerts and events and bring the best jazz, folk, world, roots, classical, rock and pop performers to audiences of over 550,000. Our Jazzlines programme is a key part of the region’s jazz infrastructure, nurturing new talent and creating performance opportunities, while our Learning & Participation team works with 18,000 people from across Birmingham each year.