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100 MPs call for urgent government action to secure future of Black Cultural Archives

The Black Cultural Archives in Brixton, London
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More than 100 MPs have written to the culture secretary demanding he step in to protect the Black Cultural Archives in south London.

The organisation, which is devoted to the heritage and culture of African and Caribbean people in Britain, is also home to the Black Plays Archive, a catalogue for the first professional production of every African, Caribbean and Black British play staged in the UK. This has been created in partnership with the National Theatre.

It is also home to collections from the Black Dance Archives.

A dedicated building opened in Brixton in 2014, meaning the BCA became the UK’s first black national heritage centre.

UK’s first black cultural heritage centre opens in Brixton

It received four years’ of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, but this has now come to an end, taking away two thirds of the BCA’s funding and leaving the organisation in a “serious funding crisis”, local MPs Helen Hayes and Chuka Umunna said.

In a letter to culture secretary Jeremy Wright, they said: “This has left the local council, Lambeth, as the BCA’s major funder at a time when councils across the country are facing unprecedented pressure on their resources.”

The letter has been co-signed by more than 100 MPs including shadow culture secretary Tom Watson, former culture secretary Harriet Harman, Diane Abbott, Tracy Brabin and David Lammy.

According to the letter, arts minister Michael Ellis visited the BCA in June, when its funding situation was discussed. However, there has been no further contact from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

“We are very concerned to learn that despite repeated attempts to contact the department following the meeting, there has been no meaningful follow-up with the BCA, which in the meantime has had to undertake a comprehensive internal restructure to respond to the drop in income,” it said.

The letter added: “We are therefore writing to ask that, as a matter of urgency you commit short term funding to sustain the BCA an work with the organisation on a sustainable funding plan for the future, including the establishment of an endowment.”

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