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Battersea Arts Centre - A Year On From the Grand Hall Fire

Published by: Carolin Kopplin on 1st May 2016 | View all blogs by Carolin Kopplin


The Battersea Arts Centre, one of the creative hubs in south London, welcoming over 160,000 people to its building each year, announced ambitious plans for its future. After a devastating fire one year ago that destroyed one third of the historic building, including the main auditorium, the Grand Hall is to be restored to its original look while making improvements to the technical infrastructure for future performances. The plaster ceiling that was destroyed will be replaced with a lattice design, recreating the one-of-a-kind plasterwork arc lost to the fire whilst revealing the 15m high apex of the roof above, thereby enabling better acoustics and allowing rigging and lighting through the ceiling. The courtyard will become an open air theatre for summer shows.

Battersea Arts Centre announced it would be launching a moving museum, a collection of artefacts and pieces that will be taken to schools and libraries around Wandsworth to share the heritage of the borough with residents in workshops and talks and to inspire new activities and iterations of those already delivered by Battersea Arts Centre including family workshops, heritage festivals, interactive installations and performances, a digital archive, talks and tours.

Spearheading the BAC Moving Museum programme in November is the return of London Stories. Following the success of the first festival in 2013, this time storytellers will share past and present tales of arriving in London from other parts of the country or the world and of trying to make this city a new home. Stories will be inspired by sentimental objects and shared with intimate audiences across a warren of candlelit rooms. The stories and objects will contribute to a temporary museum of memories, anecdotes and artefacts that shine a light on the city's history of migration.

In August and September the musical series live music will return when Borderless will take over the Council Chamber as an alternative celebration of world togetherness alongside the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Programmed by GOAT Music, the series will feature artists from around the globe and some of the best UK talent. Line-up announced 11 May.

A new "Creative Hub" (working title) is set to be launched in 2018 when the Grand Hall reopens. The hub addresses a need for affordable workspaces in Wandsworth, where nearly 3,000 start-ups were registered last year, and provides a bridge between subsidised arts and the creative industries. It will house a variety of early-stage businesses, from furniture makers to website developers, with spaces allocated through a membership system. Each hub member will provide two hours of business support each month for emerging entrepreneurs coming through Battersea Arts Centre programmes such as The Agency, which supports young people from local housing estates to develop their own social enterprises.

The centre also announced the title of the next season as Cash, Capitalism and Corporations in February and March 2017. Red Shedwill sit at the heart of the season – the third part of comedian and campaigner Mark Thomas’ autobiographical trilogy, based on his return to the Labour club in Wakefield where he first performed. Commentators, academics and activists will also be brought together from across the political spectrum as part of a varied programme of talks and debates.


1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 2 years ago
    Thanks, Carolin. So inspiring to hear of these ambitious plans.
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