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Jan 22 2016

Harrow Arts Centre – All that glistens may not be gold…

harrow_council_brokenAs a follow up to our story earlier this week, on Harrow Arts Centre, a little digging has revealed a few things worth sharing.

The Council’s opening line from it’s Ministry of Truth says: “Harrow Council’s cabinet last night backed a new vision for a bigger and better Harrow Arts Centre, when it handed over its arts & heritage services to Cultura London, an independent Charitable Trust.”

What does “independent” mean? Well, according to http://www.oxforddictionaries.com it means “free from outside control” – which sounds great, and sounds promising. But is it really independent?

The first place to look is is at the board or trustees. These are the people who ‘run’ the Charity, decide on what it does and how it does it, and makes decisions. In the case of Cultura, and according to their own website, we see this:

cultura_board

Interesting how the website lists five board members, but the Charity Commission only list three (at time of writing). The first to stand out is Cllr Sue Anderson, Labour Councillor for Greenhill, and – of course – the Portfolio Holder for Culture. It was her who said, “Cultura London are the right charity for this challenge…” yet her association with the Charity wasn’t raised as a declaration of interest at the Cabinet meeting which awarded Cultura the Arts Centre.

The second name which rang alarm bells was Sandra Bruce-Gordon, otherwise known as @Pernickity on Twitter. Ms Bruce-Gordon is Interim for Service Manager Arts and Heritage at, surprise, surprise, Harrow Council, where she’s been for over a year..

The articles of association say that there needs to be a minimum of three trustees – and if that’s the number the charity stick with, Harrow Council – by virtue of having a staff member and an elected councillor as trustees – retains total control, Hardly independent.

A transformation of the Art Centre, with the intention of expanding it’s use, longevity and benefit to the community, is something we applaud. But there are questions which remain unanswered, one of which is how come the council described Cultura as ‘independent’ when clearly, it’s anything but.

 

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5 comments

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  1. Susan Hall

    I am very concerned about the future of the Arts Centre. This is why I asked questions about it at Cabinet this week. There seems to be no ‘plan B’ if ‘Cultura’ fail to get the funding required by the summer. When I last asked there was no Financial Expert involved. I am not sure who will chair this new Company Cultura and what financial acumen he/she will have and lets not be naive we need real financial experience to deal with what will be a very complex situation. There are so many unanswered questions that I cannot feel happy with what I have been told. I sincerely hope I am wrong because Harrow needs this Arts Centre and there is no doubt that the aims are really exciting. What does not excite me however is the lack of a back up plan by this Labour administration should things not go as well as we all hope they will.

  2. Stanley Baldwin

    This looks decidedly suspect to say the least, ‘giving’ the Harrow Arts Centre to this independent charitable trust.. although not a suspect as ‘giving’ Harrow Council day centres to Mencap.

    Mirrors and blue smoke spring to mind.

  3. Hectors House (@NegligentRail)

    I am waiting for the announcement that they have transferred Pinner Park Farm to Cultura as well.

  4. Someonewhocares

    “Charities?” – are these the Organisations who famously pay their CEOs high salaries or will this one be different?;It makes some sense to get funding from elsewhere rather than close but not if it actually is -or becomes- another covert ‘jobs for the boys’ scheme::

    http://www.culturalondon.uk/cultura-london-a-registered-charity/

  5. red mirror

    of course people its suspect but until freemasonry is declared a conflict of interest whilst working in local and government and in positions of such importance as that to which we are discussing there will be no change an old boys network indeed albeit an ancient and sinister one i would suggest that all people in financial and senior positions within the council announce whether or not they are in the brotherhood EYEBROWS WOULD RAISE ME THINKS AND A AHA MOMENT WOULD TAKE PLACE but alas dont hold your breath.
    god bless

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