Hoxton Hall closes after 30 years

Jeremy Austin
,

Experimental arts centre Hoxton Hall in east London is to close at Christmas after almost 30 years, following cutbacks in its core funding.

The last professional show was performed on Sunday (November 14) and adult drama workshops have ended but a few drama and music workshops for children will be run for a little while longer. Centre support manager Peter Cloan said, however, that they would not be enough to sustain it or to justify it being kept open.

“It is a choice between giving up completely and giving the building back or keeping something going so there is a chance of recovery later on,” he said.

Leased from its Quaker owner in 1975 by a group of art teachers, its initial ad-hoc seventies operating structure developed over the years into a more modern and professional operation. Despite proving popular with its workshops for local people and its experimental non-text based professional work, it has never attained a viable level of core funding or raised its profile significantly – even with well known figures including Damon Albarn, Alison Goldfrapp, Patti Smith and Tracy Emin among those using its facilities.

Core funding came from Hackney borough council and from the Association of London Government, both of which gave around £40,000. Last year Arts Council England entered the organisation onto its recovery programme, giving around £30,000 a year as well as £30,000 for special projects.

However, ACE now believes that with 11 of the 12 core staff made redundant – three of whom have been given alternative posts at reduced hours and pay – the management structure is not sufficient to operate viably and has withdrawn funds.

Cload said the venue’s board would now try to seek alternative funding. He added that there was strong local feeling that Hackney had poured £600,000 a year into the defunct Ocean project but could not fund a few hundred for Hoxton Hall.

“There were times in the last couple of years where we have been asking Hackney for relatively small amounts of money and the response has been that they don’t have an arts budget any more. Then you discover they have been putting money in to keep Ocean open and that’s just been thrown away,” he said.

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