Half of jobs at Birmingham Town Hall and Symphony Hall at risk

Up to half of staff at Birmingham Town Hall and Symphony Hall could lose their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Birmingham’s Town Hall and Symphony Hall (THSH) have entered a period of redundancy consultation following an extended closure due to Covid-19.

Chief executive Nick Reed said the news was “heartbreaking”.

The Town Hall and Symphony Hall have been closed since mid-March. The venues have been awarded emergency relief funding by Arts Council England but all other income generated through live music and entertainment has stopped.

A statement said: “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.”

Nick Reed 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.

Last week, the Birmingham Repertory Theatre announced 47 jobs could go and warned its survival was at risk, while the Hippodrome is also consulting over redundancies.

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