Divorces are are rarely pretty, and the latest marriage to hit the rocks is the Harrow Council and Cultura London partnership, which sees the bastard lovechild, Harrow Arts Centre, in the middle of an uncertain future.
So, what happened? We’ve written about the less-than-clear goings-on before with the Arts Centre, the Council and Cultura. But it seems the council woke up, realised that it could no longer convince residents that the deal was a good one, and walked away. Not often we’ll credit this council with common sense, but Leader Shah seems to have grown a pair and finally realised this wasn’t going to work. Of course, he’ll now have a very miffed Cllr Sue Anderson on his back. “We have tried everything to help make CulturaLondon’s magnificent vision a reality… the charitable funds just haven’t come forward,” she squeaked.
And losing Anderson’s support isn’t going to help at the next group leadership votes either.
From what we can gather from all the press releases on this, the challenge proved too great, with neither local fundraising nor grants and industry funding hitting their original targets. The council goes on to say: “We are now looking at a different direction and new ways to use our limited resources to support a thriving and diverse arts and culture offer, not just at Elliott Hall, but also in performance spaces across the borough – from the Arc House at Lowlands to our newly refurbished libraries”.
Which sounds like we can expect the Arts Centre to be closed and flogged off for housing, unless… this could indeed be the new home for Harrow Council, since the deal in Wealdstone appears to have come unstuck?
Cultura London Chief Executive – herself, an ex-Harrow Council officer charged with Heritage, Sandra Bruce Gordon said “We have worked tirelessly to save Harrow Arts Centre for local residents. The Charity were prepared to take considerable risk and liability to make this happen”.
The only question left is how much money has been sunk on wages, expenses, and other treats for those behind the charity? Would Cultura be prepared to answer just how much money they’ve blown on this ill-fated venture?