Battersea Arts Centre at risk



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  • I first saw the work of Kneehigh, Cartoon de Salvo, Tim Crouch, Improbable, Told by an Idiot and Toby Jones, to name but a few, at BAC. What riches to set in front of the local population! I have seen shows performed in the attic, on the roof, and dangling over the stairs. BAC also hosts the James Menzies-Kitchin Award for young directors and, closer to home, the Time Out Critics’ Choice Season, which presents the best of London’s fringe theatre.

    You would think that Wandsworth would be proud of BAC’s reputation – the estate agents certainly boast of it in their publicity – but instead councillors claim that it has become a national resource rather than a local one and so should be paid for by the nation. In fact, it’s a rich, eccentric mix of both. It’s true that BAC has offered space in which to experimentto a whole raft of young theatremakers from across the country. But alongside working with companies like Kneehigh and The Right Size, BAC also runs much-admired arts programmes both in local schools and for young people. The high status of those programmes is due to the quality of artists attracted by BAC’s fame.

    Jubb and the chair of the board, Nick Starr, Executive Director at the National Theatre, profess themselves baffled by the council’s action. As Starr says, ‘I cannot believe that it is Wandsworth’s wish that BAC should close. We need to find out whether this is literally their intention.’ They recognise that Wandsworth has been generous in the past, but also stress that the Arts Council is not going to be able to step in and fill the funding gap, especially given that the Arts Council itself is not expected to do well in the next financial round.

    Without Wandsworth’s support, BAC will exist no more and a vital rung in the ladder of British theatre will be lost. The borough will be devoid of almost any cultural activity at all. In contrast, look at how Southwark has flourished following the proliferation of artistic organisations within its borders. If you feel strongly about this, download Time Out's 'Save the BAC' petition form.

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