Shoreditch-based community arts venue, Rich Mix, has been threatened in the High Court with closure by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
Tower Hamlets is demanding repayment of £850,000 plus accrued interest. The original sum was paid to Rich Mix in 2003 for capital work but not properly documented as either loan, grant or forward funding. The borough is demanding that full payment be made in one instalment which, if successful, could result in the closure of the venue.
According to Jane Earl, Rich Mix CEO:
'Rich Mix has offered a staged payment but the council has rejected this option and continues to spend council tax payers' money on this unnecessary legal action.'
Rich Mix is a key element of the arts and community scene in Tower Hamlets and East London and provides over 650 arts events each year across music, theatre, dance, spoken word and film. A third of the events are free to access so that no one is excluded from benefiting from the arts by reason of low income.
In the last year, the venue has also supported over 140 emerging artists and groups with rehearsal and development space to the value of £315,000. Of these artists, over half were from Tower Hamlets and Hackney and a similar proportion were from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, reflecting the local area.
Rich Mix has launched an online petition to campaign against the potential closure.
Jane Earl said:
'We want the council to know how many people value the role played by Rich Mix in the local community and to appreciate what a pivotal role we play in supporting the arts by giving space to emerging artists and groups.
'And we want to stress the devastating impact that closure of Rich Mix will have on artistic and local community life if this much-loved community facility were to close.
'We need your help to tell Tower Hamlets just how important Rich Mix is to the local community, audiences and artists alike.'
At the time of publication, the petition had gathered over 6,000 signatures.
Rich Mix is inviting supporters to sign an online petition on change.org.