Council denies arts centre is facing uncertain future

Harrow Council has denied an arts centre is facing an uncertain future after a charitable trust which raised millions to keep it open has gone into liquidation.

Cultura London raised £3.1million last year after it was revealed the council was unable afford the annual £500,000 subsidy to run Harrow Arts Centre, in Uxbridge Road, Hatch End.

The council decided to close the Hatch End-based centre in 2014 when it announced annual losses of between £500,000 and £800,000.

However, in January 2016, the council and Cultura London set an initial £3.5 million fundraising target to start modernising the centre.

This was supposed go towards providing a cinema, galleries, cafes, bars and a bigger theatre to compliment the site’s historic Elliott Hall.

To help get the project off the ground, the council agreed to Cultura London’s request to extend the site’s lease from 25 years to 90 years, as well as transforming a £1 million loan into a £1m grant pledge.

This included putting forward £1.6m in funds in maintenance for Elliott Hall and offering a two-year rent holiday for the site.

The new £17million development project was intended to transform the arts centre into a significant cultural hub in north London, estimated to bring an additional £66million of revenue to the borough each year.

However, despite being given a £1m grant by the council, the fundraising targets were not met and in September last year, it was announced that a “new direction” would be taken without any of the services and classes at the Arts Centre being affected.

Cllr Sue Anderson, who represents culture, previously told The Harrow Times that the council will explore other ways to modernise the arts centre.

The council has since confirmed Cultura London gone into liquidation and the campaign group has been contacted but has yet to respond.

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