Sunday, 5 December 2010

Here comes the chopper: the Arts Depot at risk

It seems the Arts Depot in North Finchley has just been informed that Barnet Council is proposing to withdraw its essential core funding. This hugely important community resource and cultural venue has been open for only six years: never popular, of course, with our philistine Tory councillors, it must have been high on the list of targets for savings, and now faces an uncertain future.

There is a petition to sign if you want to register your protest:


Don't Call Me Dave said...

Is there a petition I can sign to speed up its closure? As a taxpayer, I object to the huge amount of my money which has been spent on this monstrous carbuncle without any democratic mandate. There are far more effective ways of supporting the arts at a lower cost. This was an Alan Williams vanity project. Good riddance!

baarnett said...

Barnet's Cabinet considers anything not sinking or swimming in the open marketplace to be worthy of a moment's thought.

Having said that, the cause of the Arts Depot cannot be helped, in my view, by being part of an extremely ugly building, surrounded by an equally ugly road system.

Mrs Angry said...

Oh, DCMD, I despair: you can take the man out of the Tory party, but you can't take the Tory party out of the man, tut tut. If so much money was spent on this project, it seems rather a waste to kill the thing and see all our investment go down the drain, no?
You're both right about its ugliness and unfortunate surroundings, and I have never understood why the Depot doesn't have some sort of South Bank style large sign on the sides so that people notice it is there, rathere than have the entrance tucked away in a horrible alley. That said, we have few enough arts venues in the borough and should support what there is.

Broadway Blogger said...

We need more arts venues in the area and not less. It may be ugly but what was there before ( a hole in the ground ) was even worse. As is always said - "dont judge a book by its cover"

As regards Arts Subsidy - if as a country we can bail out banks - other countries and Private business - then surely something like this should come above that in terms of handouts.

The Arts Depot should not only get its grant back but it should be TREBLED because in these grim times only those who don't believe in Education would consider cutting such a service.

It seems that the "Nu Barnet Council" has more in common with Blair's Nu Labour than with David Cameron's excellent "Big Society".

"Big Society" would mean Arts Depot funding would be increased TEN FOLD - not cut completely.

At the next election the Nu Tories will be wiped off the map of Barnet with these sorts of policies because Tory voters like myself can't stomach this Nu Labour version of the Tories.

Mrs Angry said...

Well, yes, BB, although the building is externally ugly, it is fine inside and a great venue, presenting all sorts of interesting performers. It is also an asset to the area, and if it goes there can only be a detrimental effect on the neighbourhood, which will slide into a sad decline. I'm not sure I agree with your view of Dave's Big Society: I'm afraid I find that concept as convincing as Futureshape, ie a soundbite idiocy with no substance - and in line with Big Society 'thinking' I would guess the Arts Depot would not only lose public financial support, but be expected to be run on a voluntary basis, with all funding from local businesses etc. I really can't see how in a million years the present lunatic fringe Tory council can be compared to Blair's New Labour, for all its faults: they are the logical extension of intellectually challenged right wing Conservatism, and in a class of their own.

Don't Call Me Dave said...

Better to cut the taxpayers losses rather than pour ever money down this pointless black hole. The building is in the wrong place, and we are seemingly all agreed that it is a revolting piece of architecture. If you want people to attend the arts, make it a warm and inviting venue rather than a soulless slab of concrete where you risk life and limb crossing the road to get there. I don’t oppose the arts and some public subsidy can be justified when it can be afforded, but the Arts Depot should never have come into being. Better arts provision could have been provided at a lower cost (and still can) rather than wasting taxpayers’ money on this white elephant (metaphor used to counter balance the earlier black hole).

Mrs Angry said...

Well, DCMD, ahem: life is not all black and white, is it? And Tally Ho is definitely a grey area. If the Arts Depot closes, North Finchley will lose a major asset and the area will go into terminal decline. Of course you laissez faire Tories will shrug your shoulders and say, so what? But I am concerned to hear that you are scared of crossing the road: did they not teach you road safety at Eton? Ask your manservant to stop the traffic for you, when you next visit. Or Mrs Angry can show you how to use a zebra crossing, if you like?

Music4You said...

Mrs Angry, I totally agree with you, I am disgusted how people can just jump to conclusions. I have done some research myself, and have found out the following facts:
1. artsdepot are a non profit organisation that puts on shows to inflate their budget to...
2. Fund their huge outreach projects which covers 4 different boroughs, helping people from all backgrounds to interact with the arts. The funding they get from artsdepot actually serves for these projects, not the shows they put on, so in essence they are putting money back into the community. Young offenders, single parents and those with learning disabilities have a chance to gain qualifications through the Arts Award scheme (a nationally recognised qualification).
3. Luckily I did not live through the late 60s and 70s when most of the architectural crimes in the world were commited in London, and it is not the worse building I have ever seen, so I don't see what all the fuss is about.
4. I have total respect for peoples opinions. I also believe everyone is entitled to an opinion which they can freely speak. But please please please for the sake of our children and ur childrens children do your research. The principle is not artsdepot in general, but all the arts in our country. It employs a lot of people, and gives money back to a lot of communities. You may not see it, as it is not a physical object but it is there, I would like the surrounding resturants and cafes and shops around the finchley area to vouch for that.

baarnett said...

"Alan Williams vanity project" - more details, please, of the history.

I presume the supermarket and the flats were to subsidise the arts building - did Barnet get their sums wrong (no change there, then) and was there no core funding built into the business plan?

What has happened elsewhere is some of the property gain on an "arts" site (say, some of the flats) has a transfer of freehold to a trust, so that rental income was available indefinitely. Although that sounds vague as an example, didn't anything like that happen here?