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Royal Festival Hall closure plans announced

181 jobs will be lost when the Royal Festival Hall closes for major refurbishment in July 2005, it was revealed this week.

The Royal Festival Hall will be closed from July 2005 until January 2007. During that period it is planned to continue the programme of music, dance, performance, literature and talks in the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room, with a full programme of exhibitions in the Hayward Gallery.

Work is already underway on the Royal Festival Hall transformation, with the refurbishment of level 1 on the riverside and the creation of a new building alongside Hungerford railway bridge on target. The major work begins in the foyers and auditorium in July 2005.

The decision to shut the Royal Festival Hall during the refurbishment will result in 181 posts being redundant from July 2005. Staff have been informed which departments are likely to be affected and consultations are beginning with the two Unions representing staff, Amicus and PCS. The South Bank Centre is initially seeking volunteers in line with agreed procedures.

The Poetry Library will close during the period, and most of the books will go into storage. However the Library's three websites and phone enquiry service will continue to operate. Plans are underway for a children's poetry book residency locally, and the postal service to visually impaired users will be running throughout the refurbishment.

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