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South Bank row leads to call for arts leaders to quit

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The South Bank fiasco may put a stop to the Royal Festival Hall upgrade, and has prompted a lottery expert to call on arts leaders to step down en masse.

A Heritage Lottery Fund spokeswoman said that the hall's £40-million refurbishment, by Allies & Morrison, depends on the £130 million glass wave surrounding it, by Richard Rogers Partnership, going ahead.

Despite press reports that the cover for the South Bank Centre has been dropped, the centre and Arts Council insist no final decison has been made. The Arts Council meets next week and Chris Smith is due to meet all the parties to look for an 'alternative way forward'.

One of the architects for the Royal Festival Hall job, Bob Allies, said: 'We have been told nothing; we are the last people to hear.' His practice has produced drawings to stage C and has been paid for the work.

The South Bank Centre was to be part-funded by the Arts Council, which is set to undergo a huge clearout of staff. Meanwhile Elliot Bernerd is to take over from Sir Brian Corby as chairman at the South Bank Centre. The switch has nothing to do with the latest trouble, insiders say.

However Luke FitzHerbert, editor of the independent National Lottery Yearbook which lists lottery allocations, said the blame lay with the National Lottery Advisory Panel. This assesses what should be put forward for grants, is chaired by Prue Skene and includes Lady Hopkins. 'This is the lot who have been spending the money, ' he said.

'They have made a nonsense of the South Bank.'

The £75 million grant to the Covent Garden opera house had ruined the South Bank Centre's chances, ' FitzHerbert said. 'They could not have both and now we are living with the consequences.'

The project contrasts with the Tate Gallery of Modern Art, which has steamed ahead with the Bankside design. Frank Duffy of DEGW, which did initial strategic briefs for the Rogers scheme, said that Tate director Nicholas Serota had run a brilliant campaign to secure the £130 million needed.

The South Bank's approach lacked drive, he said.

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