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 their staff are now at risk of redundancy.
The future of two iconic concert halls in Birmingham City Centre, and the music charity responsible for them, looks very different from the plans they began the year with. Town Hall Symphony Hall were awarded emergency relief funding by Arts Council England, but it remains the case that all other income generated through the core business of live music and entertainment has stopped due to the Global Coronavirus Pandemic. This period of closure has already resulted in huge losses for THSH and it is still unclear as to when it may be possible for them to re-open. In order to have a chance of survival, bosses have taken the painful decision to reduce their staff in anticipation of the continuing uncertainty ahead.
Over the last few years, THSH have evolved into an organisation that earns more than 90% of its turnover from trading activities and this supports every aspect of what they do, from presenting international superstars on their stages to supporting emerging talent and creating first musical experiences for children in local schools. The 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, THSH desperately need a time-based reopening strategy from the government and the funding to reach that point. The £13.2million transformation of Symphony Hall is almost complete and poised to reconnect the city through music.
Nick Reed, Chief Executive for THSH 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 who is Chair of the Board for the music charity responsible for THSH added "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 numb"er 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 it's been confirmed that no final decision for redundancies will be made until the consultation process has been completed.