Joint Statement from Long Live Southbank and Southbank Centre

Long Live Southbank and Southbank Centre secure future of Undercroft for skateboarding and urban activities

Following talks that have taken place over the last three months, Long Live Southbank and Southbank Centre are delighted to have reached an agreement that secures the Queen Elizabeth Hall undercroft as the long-term home of British skateboarding and the other urban activities for which it is famous.

The agreement has been formalised in a binding planning agreement with Lambeth Council. In the agreement, Southbank Centre agrees to keep the undercroft open for use without charge for skateboarding, BMX riding, street writing and other urban activities.

On the basis of the protections secured by the planning agreement, Southbank Centre and Long Live Southbank have withdrawn their respective legal actions in relation to the undercroft. These include Southbank Centre’s challenge to the registration of the undercroft as an asset of community value, Long Live Southbank’s application for village green status for the undercroft, and a judicial review of Lambeth Council’s decision to reject the village green application.

Long Live Southbank is pleased to support Southbank Centre’s Festival Wing project for the improvement of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery, on the basis that the plans will now no longer include any redevelopment within the skate area of the Queen Elizabeth Hall undercroft.

Cllr Lib Peck, Leader of Lambeth Council said; “I’m pleased that Lambeth Council was able to work with both sides and find an imaginative solution to resolve this. Shared public space in London is precious and Southbank Centre is a great asset to the country’s cultural life. This agreement is a sensible way of protecting both and we can all now look forward.”

Beatboxer to Choirmaster – Shlomo speaks with George Eddy from Choir of the Year

Fresh from playing at some of the UK’s largest festivals including Latitude and Wilderness – George Eddy from Choir of the Year talks to international beat boxing champion, Shlomo, ahead of his appearance as guest artist at the Choir of The Year 2014 Category Finals on 19 October in the Royal Festival Hall.

So, you got a drum kit when you were 8 years old, was that your first instrument?

Yeah…my parents were sick of me banging on pots and pans…. I got a drum kit and started playing in the local youth orchestra and I was fascinated by music but I wasn’t allowed to practice my drums in the evenings so I started beat boxing at around that time without knowing that it was called beat boxing. Initially, I just used it as a way to practice, I didn’t realise that it could be performed at that stage.

How long were you a member of the local youth orchestra, and were you playing the drums or beat boxing?

I joined the orchestra when I was eight years old and left when I finished school at 18, so 10 years! I didn’t really show my beat boxing to an audience until after I left the orchestra. My friends heard me doing it and told me I was good. I was 18 when it all started kicking off after winning a competition called ‘King of The Jam’ where I won a pot of jam. It was proper good.

So you didn’t keep it as a trophy, you actually ate it?

Yeah I ate it, it was yummy

Well if there is nothing else to propel you into a career as an international world champion beat boxer, jam is a good way to start…

Exactly, after that I thought maybe I should take this further, so I started doing gigs and joined a band called ‘Foreign beggars’.Then I got a phone call from Björk one day. She wanted to do an all-vocal record for the Olympics, So I worked with her and that really kick-started my solo career.

I understand that you have recently started working with National Youth Choir?

Yes, they commissioned me to write a piece ‘She Lost My Crossed Heart’ for them earlier this year, which premiered in April at the Birmingham Town Hall. There were over two hundred of them performing and beat boxing together- It is both rhythmic and choral, you can watch it on youtube (
What impact do you think this has had on the choir?

The piece that I wrote is very personal to me, about the loss of a member of my family. The choir performed it well but I don’t think they were able to engage with it, to understand what it is about. So I told them that the worst thing from my perspective would be if they performed this piece without any feeling and the next time they performed it, everyone was in tears. It was so moving. For a choir like that, who are so well trained and traditionally disciplined, they just needed that permission to break free. As soon as they had that freedom, they just went with it. It was really amazing.
Now on to Choir of the Year. You’re going to be leading some audience participation at the Category Finals, what would you say to someone who has been in a choir for a long time and is nervous about using their voice in a different way?

I’d say that it is so much fun and really simple to do. What I’m aiming to do is get people to come together and create something that is bigger than they’d be able to do on their own. If they don’t enjoy it, then I’ll give them a hug.

How are you going to help people who have never done beat boxing before?

I work with the elderly and people from all different backgrounds. What is totally unifying about a voice is that everyone has one and it is totally built into your body and instinct. People in choirs already understand the concept of working together to create something really powerful. If you are never willing to do something that makes you feel daunted, you can’t consider yourself a creative person- people in choirs should be used to coming out of their comfort zone.

I gather you have collaborated with Greg Beardsell, who is going to be presenting at the Category Final, what have you done together?

I first met Greg on a project I was doing with National Youth Orchestra, on a piece commissioned by a composer called Anna Meredith. She wrote a piece called ‘Hands Free’, which has no instruments, it was all voice, body percussion and beat boxing. Anna asked me to help with the beat boxing and then Greg came and performed with me. He also performed with my vocal group The Lip Factory, on our tour last year. It was on the tour that we started talking about National Youth Choir which led to the connection with Choir of the Year.

Do you know what to expect from Choir of The Year?

It will be new to me; I haven’t been to a choral competition before. I worked with the Swingle Singers years ago, who are often involved in lots of international choral events, so I’ve been aware of this world of competitive choirs. With that said, I have never actually been to an event so I’m excited to see what it will be like.

Are you able to provide any words of wisdom for those competing?

I work with people across all different experience levels. When watching a choir, what matters to me most is the energy, conviction and passion of the performance. I’ve seen some amazing and technically accomplished singers, but if it lacks that soul and joy then it doesn’t engage the audience. I’m hoping that if the standards are varied, that passion prevails.

Just go out there with a smile and don’t let the competition get in the way of you seizing the moment. The more you enjoy it, the more likely you are to win.

What’s next, after Choir of the Year 2014?

I am working on a pilot for a new TV show. I am also starting a new solo electronic project with a number of shows coming up.
The Choir of the Year 2014 Category Finals take place at The Royal Festival Hall on Sunday 19 October.

Visit Shlomo’s website:

Calling all Poets and Spoken Word artists!

Southbank Centre will be holding the next Scratch Mixer on Friday 3 October – Scratch Mixer is Southbank Centre’s regular event in which emerging poets and spoken word artists are invited to share their work in progress.

If you are a poet, spoken word artist or performer with some work in progress (a live literature show/a performance poetry show, etc.) that you are ready to share with a London audience, we would love to hear from you! We are looking for samples of work of no more than 15 minutes to showcase in October as part of London Literature Festival and there will be an opportunity for audiences to feed back to help you shape your work. Just to reiterate, we are not looking for artists to perform individual poems but for artists who are working on perhaps a 50 min-hour long live literature show. Please click here for further advice.

Successful applicants will perform in Southbank Centre’s Festival Village on Friday 3 October at 7pm. If you are interested in taking part in this event, please email Bea Colley (details below) by 12 noon on Friday 19 September with an outline of what you would like to perform (no more than 500 words please) include a performance CV, details of previous publications as well as video clips and web links to your previous performances. Six artists will be chosen to perform their 15 minute piece.

We are looking forward to hearing from you and please do get in touch if you have any queries Bea Colley Southbank Centre

A royal cello recital with international stars

Masterpieces: World premiere performance of Shostakovich and Rachmaninov’s music on  Wednesday 10 September at Southbank Centre.

‘A TOTAL MUSIC EXPERIENCE’ – a journey through Russia’s Silver Age and Avant-garde years, Boris Andrianov together with his star friends Rem Urasin and Roman Mints, will present a selection of compositions by Rachmaninov and Shostakovich in a rare London recital.  This collection tells many stories: enigmatic, brilliant, exhilarating, poetic, ecstatic, sad or magical: each is a masterpiece by two musical giants of the 20th century: Sergi Rachmaninov and Dmitry Shostakovich.

The evening will be full of surprises with a pre-concert event and drinks at 6:30pm in which the audience is invited to view an early screening of fragments from Dziga Vertovʼs 1929 cinematic masterpiece ʻMan with a Movie Cameraʼ. A CD signing session and dinner with the musicians will follow the concert. ​

​’​A miraculous music-making’ as Medici Tv claimed​: seize this rare opportunity in London to share the company of these brilliant artists in a musical adventure to remember for a long time to come!

BOOK NOW: An evening with our favourite musicians:

BOOK NOW: Enjoy​ a post-concert dinner with artists at the authentic Italian Cafe Vergni​ano 1882: to reserve your place please contact : E:

Dance at Southbank Centre

Wendy Martin, Head of Dance at Southbank Centre was recently interviewed about our dance programme and our Unlimited Festival.

Hi Wendy, can you tell me a bit about Southbank Centre’s dance provision?

We want to share our passion for dance by presenting and commissioning the work of artists and companies that excite, inspire and provoke. We also look for work that speaks to the themes of our festivals. Across the year, the programme at Southbank is driven by a series of thematic festivals that provide a framework for investigating the world of contemporary dance from particular perspectives.

How are you engaging new dance audiences at Southbank Centre?

Learning and participation is hugely important to us and there are always opportunities to become engaged with dance more deeply than by simply watching a performance. This is a great way for people to step into the world of dance. For Unlimited – our upcoming festival celebrating the artistic vision and originality of artists with disabilities – people can take part in a workshop led by integrated dance company Stopgap, where disabled and non-disabled people with no dance skills can learn together.

We’re also presenting the return of Groove on Down the Road, ZooNation’s hip-hop dance show inspired by The Wizard of Oz. The performers are from ZooNation’s youth company, all aged between nine and 19. The show is bringing in family audiences, many of whom are seeing a dance show for the first time.

What’s your programming process?

The only way you can really understand the landscape of what’s happening in contemporary dance is by seeing a lot of work. To make a festival like Unlimited, I endeavour to see as much work as possible created by disabled artists and I also get to know the artists so I can understand their particular point of view, their creative goals and career ambitions.

Finding work is the beginning of the process. When I see a show I analyse my own response but I also ask a series of questions about why I would present a work, who would want to see it and what our marketing and PR team might say to sell it. In the end, the decisions you make are always driven by questions of context, budget and marketing.

Dance received almost a 10% funding rise in the recent national portfolio organisation (NPO) round – why do you think Arts Council England (ACE) upped its investment?

There are so many people and organisations in the UK passionately committed to dance – from the brilliant artists creating the work we see to community programmes like Big Dance that bring people together. Dance plays such an important role in our culture and community, and the NPO funding increase is acknowledgement of that fact.

What’s the key then to making sure that investment stays strong in the long-term?

Creating and touring work requires serious financial commitment so the idea of organisations pooling resources is a smart one. The important thing is that the work is seen and that opportunities and audiences continue to grow. Wouldn’t it be great if the corporate world could see the immense value in this and begin to support dance the way it supports sport?

How far do you think disability arts have come since the London 2012 Paralympics?

The Unlimited programme and the opening and closing ceremonies of the Paralympics proved, as Lyn Gardner recently acknowledged on her blog, that disability arts are an integral part of the arts ecology and society itself. ACE, Creative Scotland and the Spirit of 2012 Trust have acknowledged this by committing ongoing funding to enable the Unlimited programme to continue to commission, develop and show ambitious and high-quality work both nationally and internationally.

The disappointing thing is that as these funding agencies recognise the merit and value of disability arts, many artists with disabilities are finding it difficult to get the support they need to make work because of government cuts to the Access to Work scheme. There is a paradox there that needs to be addressed.

What needs to change?

Without the support of the Access to Work scheme, creating work can be a massive challenge for artists with disabilities. Deaf artists who require sign interpreters for communication or artists who need carers to be with them are simply not able to work without support. We are not talking about benefits; they are essential.

As presenters we must also consider the needs of audience members with disabilities. A huge part of our budget and planning for Unlimited is committed to ensure that as many performances as possible are BSL interpreted, captioned and audio described. These are essential provisions. They are costly but venues must commit to making work accessible to everyone.

What do you make of what’s going on at the moment with the Australian arts and culture sector?

It’s devastating to have a government that does not respect and support the role of the arts. The biggest arts cuts in the recent budget were to the Australia Council for the Arts and Screen Australia.

Take cinema: for a small country, Australia has punched well above its weight and our films speak to a broad international audience. But it’s the leadership that makes a difference. Culture thrived in Australia under Edward Whitlam and later Paul Keating. These were enlightened individuals.

This interview was first published on the Guardian website.

Get Involved with our Philia Weekend

As part of Philia Weekend, which explores the way we care for the people we strive with to achieve a shared goal, Southbank Centre is calling on bands and groups of the past to reunite for one final performance. Whether you rocked in college or popped in dance-floor-fillers-party-performance-webprimary school, take this chance to get back together, perform some of your old favourites and spend the evening reminiscing with old friends. Whether you have one song or a 30-minute set we want to hear from you!

To book a slot in our reunion gig on Saturday 9th August please email with your grou
p name and size, along with a paragraph telling us about your group’s story.

There are plenty of other ways to get invovled, including The Big Stich Up, Capturing Connections and Dance Floor Fillers.

So grab your mates and come down to our Philia weekend!

Southbank Centre on Tour

 Wolf Trapp Concert Hall Every year around 24 million people visit Southbank Centre to see our numerous festivals, performances and events. They all help to make our site the bustling, vibrant and exciting place it is. However, we know that not everyone can make it to London and not wanting our worldwide audience to miss out we have started touring certain festivals and events.

One such performance was 2001 A Space Odyssey on July 19th 2014 and Gillian Moore, Head of Classical Music at Southbank Centre was in attendance:

‘As part of Southbank Centre’s ongoing touring programme, our production of Stanley Kubruck’s 2001 A Space Odyssey was performed by the National Symphony Orchestra in the Wolf Trap concert hall, Washington 4

This production was first devised for the See Further festival of Science and the Arts in 2010 and has been seen around the world from Sydney to Amsterdam to New York, managed by Neil Mackinnon, our Touring and Commissions Manager.  In Washington, over 3,000 people saw 2001 at this spectacular outdoor venue in a National Park and, because it was shown the day before the 45th anniversary of the Moon Landing,  the pre-show talk was given by Buzz Aldrin together with the Director of NASA.  There was a standing ovation and it was exciting to see something which was born at Southbank Centre having such a great reaction on the other side of the world.’