CriticalDance Forum

Renovation of London's South Bank Centre
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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Aug 28, 2001 10:50 pm ]
Post subject:  London's South Bank Centre

South Bank Centre

Note: The sbc covers the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, Hayward Gallery and National Film Theatre.

Norman Lebrecht in The Daily Telegraph advises the Arts Council on what steps should be taken to save the South Bank Centre.

Stuart adds, 'Well actually he recommends the abolition of the Arts Council for the umpteenth time. Still no clear idea what would replace it. Dance is actually rather good on the South Bank and I have had plenty of fine evenings there this year.

THINGS that go bump in the dead of August are seldom a symptom of strategic foresight. The departure of Karsten Witt, chief executive of London's squalid South Bank Centre, was officially ascribed to "a major organisational review". Once the full facts are known, it may look more like major organisational confusion.

Two weeks before Witt went bump, the South Bank board assured Parliament in an annual financial statement that its artistic life "continued to flourish" and its development plans were proceeding apace. No need to ditch the pilot, you'd think, let alone conduct a six-month self-examination. But beneath the face-saving formulas of an overspun press statement stands a national institution that no longer knows which way is up.

<small>[ 22 April 2004, 09:24 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  Emma Pegler [ Wed Aug 29, 2001 12:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Renovation of London's South Bank Centre

Yes - I was actually wandering around the SBC complex on Bank Hliday Monday and there were lots of interesting things going on for all ages and tastes. For example, in the foyer of the Foyal Festival Hall there was a large ball room class being given by a teacher up on a little stage with a microphone head set and it was clear that, literally hundreds of people wer having a good time - you could not move for people in dance shoes (all ages - 7 to what looked like 92) jigging around or jitterbugging around. It was a wonderful spectacle of that wonderful thing called, dance. Excellent use of otherwise dead space and not too many venues in London would either want to do this, nor have the space to do this. I know that these ballroom dancing events have being going on all through the summer.<BR>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Wed Aug 29, 2001 12:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Renovation of London's South Bank Centre

Image <P>You're right Emma and in fact the season covered everything from ballroom to bharata natyam with Mavin Khoo, soon to appear in the Royal Opera House Clore Studio. Here is the link to our announcement about the festival. Sadly an exceptionally busy summer meant that I didn't make any of the events, which has now ended:<BR> <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Sep 16, 2001 2:14 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Renovation of London's South Bank Centre

Image <P><BR> The Observer's architecture correspondent seems to think that the plot is slipping away from the senior management team at the London's South Bank Centre. Sudic is right about the neglect and the no-go areas. However, my main impression remains of the superb and varied dance programming that goes on there under the committed and astute eye of the Dance Programming Manager Julia Carruthers.<P><BR><B>Stand-off on the South Bank</B> <P>Despite 13 plans in 13 years, London's artistic hub is fast descending into squalor and dereliction. What can be done to rescue it? <P>Deyan Sudjic writes in The Observer <P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>In public at least, London's South Bank Centre is putting a brave face on its humiliating inability, six months after it held a high-profile international competition to find an architect to design its new concert hall, to decide which of the two firms it named as joint winners will get the commission. <BR>'We will be putting the brief to them shortly,' says a spokesperson for the South Bank Centre. 'Then they will work on their design, and we will make an appointment by the end of the year.' This bizarre procedure has angered participants in the original competition who had been under the impression that they already had a brief. <P>In private, few people involved with the project believe it will happen. 'It's dead, and the sooner that the centre admits that and starts again, the better,' says one insider. Even the competition chairman, the distinguished American architect Harry Cobb, is reportedly running out of patience, embarrassed by the inability of the South Bank to define exactly what it wants.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE> <P><A HREF=",6903,552422,00.html" TARGET=_blank><B>more...</B></A><P><BR><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited September 16, 2001).]

Author:  Emma Pegler [ Mon Sep 17, 2001 2:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Renovation of London's South Bank Centre

Yes, the sbc is ugly etc etc but I still very much enjoy ambling along the Thames and popping in to the Royal Festival Hall to have a drink, buy a book in the excellent bookshop and a cd from the Farringdon Records branch there. There are very few cultural institutions in London which are accessible to the general public without the purchase of a ticket, and increasingly a costly ticket. With the free events in the foyer and the general bustle of life in the area, I would advise people not to be put off from visiting the area.

Author:  Emma Pegler [ Wed Oct 17, 2001 3:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Renovation of London's South Bank Centre

Norman Lebrecht's article for the Daily Telegraph discusses large-scale arts centres which I would tend not to call arts cetres. An arts centre for me is something short of institution-size and I can think of many excellent examples.<P><B>Why arts centres are things of the past<BR> <BR>Liberate the arts from proprietorial interference, says Norman Lebrecht</B><P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Liberate the arts from proprietorial interference, says Norman Lebrecht<P>IT is assuredly no coincidence that the two largest arts centres in the English-speaking world have found themselves simultaneously headless - and, to all appearances, clueless - in their efforts to assert some kind of purpose for the 21st century.<P>Toplessness has become the natural order of things at London's South Bank Centre, the longest-running off-Whitehall farce. The SBC is not uniquely exposed. In New York, the president of the Lincoln Centre has quit after only nine months. Any connection?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="" TARGET=_blank><B>more....</B></A>

Author:  Emma Pegler [ Sat Oct 20, 2001 12:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Renovation of London's South Bank Centre

So the sbc is taking its regular beating. I agree that the layers of bureaucracy involved in trying to co-ordinate different segments in the arts is unimaginably difficult. However the concept of having different forms of art under one roof is fundamentally good - not the only model for the arts but A model. I enjoy the Opera House, I enjoy Sadler's Wells, but I very much enjoy visiting a high quality bookshop and catching some jazz sounds in the foyer whilst I'm waiting to go in to see my production.

Author:  Joanne [ Tue Nov 06, 2001 12:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Renovation of London's South Bank Centre

Article in The Times<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Keats told us that a thing of beauty is a joy for ever. If he could see the South Bank Centre today he might also conclude that a thing of concrete is a pain in the neck for ever. After 15 years in which its “masterplans” have risen and fallen like pods on the London Eye and the cast-list of those accountable is rewritten by the month, Britain’s allegedly premier arts complex remains a turn-off for tourists and natives alike and an embarrassment to those who profess London to be a world-class culture capital<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF=",,62-2001383422,00.html" TARGET=_blank> <B> MORE </B> </A><BR>

Author:  Red Shoes [ Tue Nov 06, 2001 12:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Renovation of London's South Bank Centre

I'll be interested to see if anything is happening on my next visit to London, as I frequently walk through the complex to get across the river. Last time I popped in it was early evening and there was a large crowd of people enjoying jazz, which I personally don't enjoy, and nor, apparently does my son, who clapped his hands firmly over his ears and demanded that we leave the 'noise'.<BR>Good shop though. And I have some happy memories of the FH, as I saw Barishnikov and Makarova dance there before either had left the Kirov.<BR>But it IS a depressing place from the outside - always has been, and I feel quite vulnerable wandering around there at off-peak times, as parts of it (outside) are excellent places for unhindered muggings, in my opinion.

Author:  Emma Pegler [ Wed Jan 02, 2002 1:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Renovation of London's South Bank Centre

Here we go again. Yes, I noticed that the RFH complex is falling apart: at the "Snow Maiden" in the QEH, the arms of my seat were loosing their stuffing, but....we can't just knock it down and leave a vacuum for however many years whilst it is rebuilt.<P><B>South Bank faces moment of truth</B> <BR>Financial Times; Jan 2, 2002<BR>By TONY THORNCROFT<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Across the Thames from the Houses of Parliament is the largest arts complex in the world. Yet the only friends that the South Bank Centre seems to have these days is its audience - which has risen by 2 per cent in recent months while rival arts venues have struggled.<P>But it is the other arts institutions with international pretensions - from the Royal Opera House and the Albert Hall to the National Theatre - that have enjoyed lavish lottery grants to enhance their appeal. The South Bank always seems to miss out.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="" TARGET=_blank><B>more...</B></A><P><BR>

Author:  Joanne [ Sun Jan 20, 2002 1:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Renovation of London's South Bank Centre

Two Articles in The Observer.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>No matter how impatient the Department of Culture, Media and Sport is getting about the mess at the South Bank, it was Elliot Bernerd's doctor who made him resign as the centre's chairman last week, not the Government. There are many who are sorry to see him go. 'When he was around, things got to happen,' says Rick Mather, architect of the South Bank masterplan. 'When he wasn't there, things stopped.' <BR>Yet for all his financial acumen and toughness, he was unable to make much headway with the project. Inertia has paralysed the biggest cultural complex in Britain for almost 20 years. <P><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF=",6903,636043,00.html" TARGET=_blank> <B> MORE </B> </A><P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>The Observer asked leading cultural commentators for their personal vision of what should happen to the South Bank, while London Mayor Ken Livingstone argues that its time for him to run it. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF=",6903,636443,00.html" TARGET=_blank> <B> MORE </B> </A><p>[This message has been edited by Joanne (edited January 20, 2002).]

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Jan 20, 2002 1:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Renovation of London's South Bank Centre

There's also an article on The South Bank Centre in the Sunday Times today;<P><B>Culture: Richard Brooks: Biteback</B><P> <BR>At 11.31 last Tuesday morning, Gerald Kaufman, chairman of the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee, yawned. At 11.32, the veteran Labourite yawned again. At 11.33, he yawned once more. <BR>Mind you, Kaufman was listening to the South Bank Centre give evidence about its latest redevelopment plan. Plan five. Or is it 50? The centre has been offering redevelopment plans since 1991, and still virtually no work has begun. <P>I’m sure Kaufman was listening intently, though his main concern about the South Bank appeared to be being knocked down by skateboarders. He even politely thanked the centre for coming along.<P><A HREF=",,9013-2002026747,00.html" TARGET=_blank><B>click for more</B></A>

Author:  Emma Pegler [ Sat Feb 09, 2002 8:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Renovation of London's South Bank Centre

A letter is being circulated to those on the Royal Festival Hall mailing list which discusses renovation plans for the RFH which is celebrated its 50th birthday last year. The first paragraph summary reminds us why we should not be down on the old building:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>The Royal Festival Hall ....was the centrepiece of the 1951 Festival of Britain and was the contry's first post-war building to be listed Grade 1. [oh well!] It has played host to every major classical music artist in the second half of the the 20th century..."<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>I agree that doesn't mean it isn't ugly, but it is of cultural importance. Renovations will cost £54 million although there will access for visitors throughout. We are promised better access and new cafes and more comfortable seating.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Feb 19, 2002 2:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Renovation of London's South Bank Centre

<small>Lord Hollick</small><P><B>Hollick gets South Bank job</B><BR>Lord Hollick will seek to redevelop the South Bank<BR>BBC website<P><BR>One of Labour's most influential supporters, Lord Hollick, has taken charge of the biggest arts complex in the country, the South Bank Centre in London. <BR>The media tycoon takes over as chairman of the South Bank Board, the centre's governing body, from Elliott Bernerd, who has resigned due to ill health. <P>His most pressing task will be to raise the money necessary to upgrade the centre. The site has been the subject of numerous failed redevelopment schemes over the years.<P><A HREF="" TARGET=_blank><B>click for more</B></A>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Feb 19, 2002 2:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Renovation of London's South Bank Centre

This is a very important appointment and i hope it doesn't get overtaken by the political arguments that have emerged in this article.<P>The South Bank Centre provides an important home for dance in London. The 800-seater Queen Elizabeth Hall is particularly important in providing a bridge between the many small theatres and the 1500+ seater biggies. <P>The SBC also has a strong history of appointing excellent dance programmers and the current incumbent, Julia Carruthers is no exception. Apart from inspired programming, she has a very positive policy of using the smaller rooms for dance seminars such as the BIG events regularly featured here.<P>Sadly, The Royal Festival Hall is probably the shabbiest major venue in London and with its wonderful views across the River Thames I really hope it can be brought back up to standard.<P>With the current state of the site and the plethora of plans that have been discarded over the past decade, Lord Hollick certainly has his work cut out.

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