One of London’s most iconic venues could be forced to shut its doors forever within months if it doesn't receive urgent funds, it is reported.
The west London concert hall has lost an estimated £12 million in potential income since it was forced to shut mid-March.
Boris Johnson has announced that theatres and concert halls are able to reopen from July 4, but not for live performances, leaving the Albert Hall in the “most perilous” situation it has “ever faced”, according to CEO Craig Hassall.
Mr Hassall told the i: “The Government support has been very oblique and vague. We have lobbied hard and consistently across the sector.”
However, he said, Downing Street’s road map for recovery offered no firm dates for theatres to resume the staging of performances to live audiences.
“There is no guidance from Government on when we can open or how we can open,” he said.
“Without that it’s impossible for us to trade – and that means the whole sector.”
A reduction in mandatory social distancing from two metres to one leaves the Victorian venue still only able to fill a third of its seats.
However, most theatre and concert spaces require capacity of 80 per cent to turn a profit.
“Until venues can open without social distancing, the live music industry is finished,” Mr Hassall stressed.
In an interview last week, the Hall’s CEO said he expected to begin hosting reduced audiences in October or November, but insisted this was only “an interim measure” to get people into the venue.
He said around 80 per cent of concerts hosted by the venue were from external promoters hiring the space, and that many of them would be unable to break even with the one-metre rule in place.
Describing the effect of the pandemic, Mr Hassall said: “It is the most negatively impactful event in the history of the Royal Albert Hall, and for the cultural sector it is devastating and perilous. I cannot exaggerate this.”
The chief executive said he had been speaking with the heads of other major London venues, including the Royal Opera House, National Theatre, Barbican and The Old Vic to swap solutions.
He said he had also been in contact with The Lincoln Centre and Carnegie Hall in New York, and the Sydney Opera House.
Mr Hassall also warned of the dangers facing regional theatre groups who may not be able to stage pantomimes this year.
He said: “And the killer thing is pantomime. So for a lot of regional theatres, if they don’t have their panto season at Christmas, that’s their cash cow for the entire year.
“And the time to plan your panto season is today, it’s not next month, it’s right now. You need to plan for it right now so this is a desperate situation for the creative sector across the whole of the UK.”