Royal Albert Hall in 'perilous' position as it seeks to plug £20m income shortfall

The charity says it is ineligible for emergency grants under the government's rescue package for the arts and heritage sector

The Royal Albert Hall has launched an emergency fundraising campaign to try to plug a £20m shortfall in its finances caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The charity said it had lost £18m in income since the venue was forced to close in March because of the outbreak, and was ineligible to apply for a grant under the government’s £1.6bn emergency package for the arts and heritage sector. 

In addition to the lost income, it has had to pay out £6.5m in ticket refunds and its reserves were exhausted.  

Eighty per cent of the hall's 515 staff have been furloughed. 

The charity said it had been advised by the government to apply for a loan, which the venue said would not arrive until December. 

Craig Hassall, chief executive of the Royal Albert Hall, said: “Six months on from enforced closure, and circa £18m down in lost income, we are not eligible for any of the government’s emergency grants. 

“This leaves us in an extremely perilous position, with no way of replacing our lost income apart from a government loan, which may or may not materialise.

“We raised concerns months ago about the potential for independent, unfunded organisations such as the Royal Albert Hall to miss out on government support, and especially having been held up by the government as a ‘crown jewel’ that must be saved. 

“With millions of pounds of essential building work called to a halt owing to Covid we had hoped to be eligible for a capital grant, but have been informed that, as we are not a portfolio of nationally spread sites, we are not eligible for this scheme.”

He said the fanfare for the government’s rescue package had given many potential donors the false impression that the charity was being sufficiently supported elsewhere. 

“The Royal Albert Hall now faces a bleak future unless it can secure not only a repayable government loan, but also urgent donations to plug our current £20m shortfall,” said Hassall. 

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