Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham Town Hall and Symphony Hall consult over job cuts

Town Hall Image copyright Google
Image caption Birmingham Town Hall has hosted the likes of David Bowie and Led Zeppelin

Bosses at two concert halls have said half of their staff are at risk of redundancy as they attempt to survive 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.

The company said it must take the "painful decision" to reduce staff due to the continuing uncertainty ahead.

Chief executive Nick Reed said the news was "heartbreaking".

The consultation comes despite emergency relief funding by Arts Council England and THSH said in order to have "any chance of survival" it needs "a time-based reopening strategy from the government and the funding to reach that point". The venues employ 65 staff with 35 at risk of redundancy.

Image copyright THSH
Image caption Symphony Hall is considered one of the country's finest concert halls

The organisation said the future of the two venues, and the music charity responsible for them, "looks very different from the plans we began the year with".

Birmingham Town Hall, which opened in 1834 and is renowned for its 70ft organ, is located in Victoria Square and has hosted the likes of David Bowie and Led Zeppelin.

Symphony Hall, inside the ICC on Broad Street, opened 29 years ago and is considered one of the country's finest concert halls.

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

Analysis by Satnam Rana, BBC Midlands Today Arts and Culture Correspondent

Covid 19 doesn't discriminate and for the arts and culture sector it's been both devastating and heartbreaking in equal measure.

Without shows and productions there is no revenue. Leaders have told me they need to ensure the region's cultural assets survive this perilous period.

My question is what happens when theatres, concerts halls and live music venues reopen?

For the creative sector to recover they need us to buy tickets. Will the public have the confidence to return to our auditoriums and concert halls when they do reopen? I, like many people who enjoy music, dance and theatre, hope so.

Mr Reed said: "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."

THSH said those affected had been contacted and no final decision on redundancies would be made until the consultation process had been completed.

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