Introduction

About Somerset House

Somerset House is London’s working arts centre and home to the UK’s largest creative community. Built on historic foundations, Somerset House is situated in the very heart of the capital. Dedicated to backing progress, championing openness, nurturing creativity and empowering ideas, our cultural programme is ambitious in scope. We insist on relevance, but aren’t afraid of irreverence, and are as keen on entertainment as enrichment. We embrace the biggest issues of current times but are equally committed to the delicate task of oxygenating new work by emerging artists. It is this creative tension - the way in which the organisation harnesses its heritage, puts the too-often overlooked on the central stage and uses a neo-classical backdrop to showcase groundbreaking contemporary culture - that inspires Somerset House’s programme. Old and new, history and disruption, art and entertainment, high-tech and homemade, combined with the fact that Somerset House is home to a constantly shape-shifting working creative community: this is its point of difference. It is what we are proud of. And it is what makes the experience of visiting or working in Somerset House inspiring and energising, urgent and exciting.

The Trust, a registered charity, has developed a unique business model, where nearly all income is derived from property, commercial, cultural events and fundraising, with almost no public investment and to date little fundraising. Annual income is in the region of £16m. Rents and other income, including food and drink from the residents, makes up about 65% of revenues and the balance comes from cultural and commercial events activity. Somerset House have redeveloped several of its buildings, allowing the Trust to develop a unique business model where its income is made up from rental and commercial activities, letting office space to over 100 creative enterprises that constitute what is thought to be the largest cluster of the creative industries in London. The largest of the tenants include the Courtauld, King’s College and the British Fashion Council.

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