Yet more worrying to industry insiders than the relatively small deficit, according to the paper, are strongly worded disagreements between South Bank artistic director Jude Kelly and chief executive Michael Lynch over programming, details of which are scheduled to be announced early next year.
The Guardian quotes an anonymous executive as saying, "We just don't know what kind of business we are in yet ... There is a lot of disquiet around. It is as if everybody is still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Nobody wants this place to fail, but this is a time for working out the nitty-gritty, and nobody seems to be doing that."
A former employee told the paper, "There is still no clear program. People are feeling a bit leaderless."
Kelly, the former artistic director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, was appointed earlier this year to her role at South Bank, as well as chosen as chair of the Arts, Culture and Education Committee of the 2012 Olympics, which will be held in London. Lynch, an Australian, came to the British capital four years ago from the Sydney Opera House. The Guardian cites a South Bank spokesman denying that the two have anything other than a strong working relationship.
According to The Guardian, Kelly has little experience of organizing live concerts, but wants to increase the center's popularity and to turn the Festival Hall into a venue that produces, rather than simply hosts, acts and orchestras.
Kelly has signed up artists-in-residence ranging from pop composer/DJ Nitin Sawhney and Rafael Bonachela (Kylie Minogue's choreographer), to the vocal ensemble The Sixteen and the admired bass-baritone Willard White, but those inside the organization are impatient to hear the practical details, according to The Guardian. There has as of yet been no information released about specific programming elements or even what the renovated South Bank Centre — which encompasses the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Purcell Room and the Hayward Art Gallery — will be called.