TAITMAIL Wimbledon’s acting lesson

TAITMAIL Wimbledon’s acting lesson

Wimbledon College of Arts is turfing out its fine arts operation so that it can teach acting. In three years or so, if things go according to plan, half of the thousand students in the leafiest corner of the University of the Arts London (UAL) empire will be performers; the other half will be costume or set designers.

City scope: putting culture alongside housing

City scope: putting culture alongside housing

Last week we brought you the report of the Cultural Cities Enquiry which could shift the base of arts funding in this country. But what does it mean? Jonathan Todd, chief economist at BOP Consulting, was part of the research team that led the UK-wide consultation process and provided the year-long enquiry with its essential data

RA picks Axel Rűger as new CEO

RA picks Axel Rűger as new CEO

Axel Rűger, director of Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, is to succeed Sir Charles Saumarez Smith as secretary and chief executive of the Royal Academy.

Fatoş Üstek next Liverpool Biennial director

Fatoş Üstek next Liverpool Biennial director

The new director of the Liverpool Biennial is to be the Turkish-born curator and writer Fatoş Üstek.

Making an art school for actors

Making an art school for actors

Can - should - an art school teach acting? The University of the Arts shares its plans for Wimbledon with Simon Tait

Arts ‘treading water’ on diversity

An Arts Council England report published today shows that its National Portfolio Organisation clients are not progressing enough with implementing diversity.

Darwin ‘Origin’ page may be sold abroad

Darwin ‘Origin’ page may be sold abroad

A temporary export bar has been placed on a handwritten page from Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.

Laurie Sansom is new boss of Northern Broadsides

Laurie Sansom is new boss of Northern Broadsides

Northern Broadsides has appointed Laurie Sansom as its new artistic director and CEO in June this year.

TALK OF THE TOWN HALL  Council of despair?

TALK OF THE TOWN HALL Council of despair?

Patrick Kelly hears the latest municipal whispers

First steps

First steps

The National Youth Dance Company is in rehearsal for its seventh professional new production – with it seventh new troupe. Simon Tait talks to the company’s general manager Hannah Kirkpatrick

New trust to give London artists affordable studios

Private and public funding are coming together to create an independent trust to provide affordable workspaces for artists in London.

MA warns of ‘highly damaging’ No Deal

Association fears museums face substantial losses

The real Mary Queen of Scots

The real Mary Queen of Scots

A rare and frank portrait of the teenage Mary Queen of Scots goes on display at Hever Castle on Friday, February 8, the anniversary of her execution in 1587.

‘Culture key to cities’ growth’ – report

‘Culture key to cities’ growth’ – report

Investment in culture is the key to our cities’ growth, according to a report published today.

How reviving Bodies makes theatre magic

How reviving Bodies makes theatre magic

The husband-and-wife team of Tricia Thorns and Graham Cowley, who operate as Two’s Company, rediscover a forgotten 20thcentury theatre masterpieces and produce them. Their latest, as Simon Tait discovers, is a James Saunders gem

Jerwood fall-out threatens Hastings gallery

Jerwood fall-out threatens Hastings gallery

A “family” row is threatening the future of the award-winning Jerwood Gallery in Hastings, with the venue’s sponsors, the Jerwood Foundation, withdrawing its collection of British art and financial support.

Cinema audiences boom from UK productions

Cinema audiences boom from UK productions

UK cinema audiences have reached record numbers, with the second highest spend on film and TV production in this country.

Maritime museum chief steps down

Maritime museum chief steps down

Kevin Fewster, director of Royal Museums Greenwich since 2007, is to stand down having transformed the former National Maritime Museum with muliti-million-pound developments.

TAITMAIL The Grand Old Dame of York

TAITMAIL The Grand Old Dame of York

By Patrick Kelly

It’s always a privilege to watch a master at work, and audiences at York’s Theatre Royal were honoured to witness Berwick Kaler’s 40thand final season as panto dame. The season, as usual, has been a complete sell-out as theatregoers trampled on each other to acquire tickets for this last opportunity to see a superb craftsman go about his business.

Ex-BBC White City centre to be theatre complex

Ex-BBC White City centre to be theatre complex

The BBC’s former media village at White City in West London is to become a large-scale pop-up theatre, opening this summer.

Survey reveals massive council cuts

Council spending on museums, libraries, arts, and culture has been slashed by nearly almost £400m since 2010.

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM    Image of the month

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the month

Beyond the Deepening Shadow, The Tower of London, November 2018, by Jeremy Selwyn

‘Their finest hour’ becomes Biggin Hill museum

‘Their finest hour’ becomes Biggin Hill museum

Biggin Hill Airfield, one of the main stations flor the Battle of Britain in 1940, is having its  timeless story told in a museum that opens today.

DEA BIRKETT     But seriously – welcome!

DEA BIRKETT But seriously – welcome!

In the latest in her series marking the 250th anniversary of the circus, Dea Birkett – the official Ringmaster of Circus250 – finds that media misuse of circus language shows disrespect of a gentle art

Wood Green’s Chelsea

In a North London suburb a municipal building is being turned into a hotel for artists

The large building almost opposite Wood Green Tube station is an unassuming four storey Art Deco pile identified on its face by five green plaster panels. The middle one declares “Northmet” -  The Northern Metropolitan Power Company – and the others explain “Lighting”, “Heating, “Cooking” and “Power”.  The ground floor frontage is clad in the same municipal green.

The modest appearance of 13-27 Station Road, Hornsey, is deceptive. Almost nothing is known about its history except that it was built in 1925 for Northmet, architect and builder unrecorded, and in 1963 it was taken over by Haringey Council to be its municipal offices until five years ago.

Yet it could be London’s version of Manhatten’s famous Chelsea Hotel, home at different times to the likes of Janis Joplin, Dylan Thomas, Sid Vicious and Brendan Behan.

In May, 13-27 will reopen as Green Rooms, devised and designed as an artists’ hotel with beds for as little as £18 a night. It will have a bar, a restaurant which will also be an incubator for young restaurateurs, a large foyer with a performance space, and a large top floor rehearsal/exhibition space that will also be available for locals to use. There will be some en suites for up to £60 a night and a couple of longer term ateliers with mezzanine workspaces.

Behind the project is Nick Hartwright (right), 39 and from Leystonstone, who is a social entrepreneur. He made his fortune designing and selling rugs through his The Mill Co Project, but since 2010 has put his ingenuity into taking unused buildings on short leases to create artists’ studios, mostly in London’s East End.

Green Rooms moves his social entrepreneurship into new territory.

“When creatives come to London to work in theatre and music there’s nowhere for them to stay, hang out with people of their own sort and have the kind of conversations that turn into projects” he says. “What there is is either really poor or very expensive.”

He began with his The Mill Co Project partner Claire Martin with a warehouse in Bethnal Green which they turned into a gallery space, then switched to studios – they now have eight sites. The notion of somewhere to work and maybe somewhere to stay has grown into “somewhere to stay, meet, rehearse and develop ideas” he says. “I took one look at this place which Haringey Council was looking for a new use for, and I knew I had the place”.

The Green Rooms project is almost a paradigm of modern cultural entrepreneurships, based on layers of partnerships. He has the building on a minimal long-term lease from the council which has also committed £40,000, and the support of the Greater London Assembly’s High Street Fund with £140,000.

Hartwright has put his own money in, and there’s investment from the entrepreneur Kurt Bredenbeck, founder of the now fashionable Hoxton Hotel, as well as from angels such as the ClearlySo impact investment firm whose modus is to deliver social or environmental impact as well as financial profit.

In fact, the hotel is being created for under £1m, Hartwright says, through using teams of specialists rather than a single contractor which has probably saved £2m. He also negotiated extremely favourable terms with the architects, SODA, the young West End partnership whose success with other projects allows them to charge only a modest fee with a social enterprise such as this; it’s the same with Hypnos who is designing the beds.

The existing building, fortunately, was built to high specifications, an early and uncomplicated steel box frame in which there are no asbestos complications. The council had covered the oak parquet floors and hung false ceilings over the plaster mouldings in the main rooms and mahogany roofed former warehouse spaces, and all this is being restored. But nothing had been thrown away – except for the cage lift – so the old banisters and brass window handles are being restored too, and some 1920s enamel hanging lamp shades with giant bulbs will also have a new life.

Although there are 22 double bedrooms, there also are two dormitories, one with 16 beds and the other with 18, and communal toilets for men and women. There are also twin beds for disabled artists who come with carers. “It’s basic but good accommodation, and people will be socialising in the shared areas most of the time” Hartwright says. “People are much more into sharing spaces now”.

The ground floor, once a showroom, will be a large foyer for reception including a bar and a restaurant which will double as a training school for young restaurateurs.

On the fourth level is Hartwright’s favourite space, once Northmet’s boardroom which had a bar at one end, and beneath the false ceiling his team found an exquisite engraved glass skylight which is being restored to be its centrepiece. “It’s when I saw this room I knew what we had to do” he says. It will also be available for use by local people.

Green Rooms has had no advertising and as yet has no general manager – a fine pedestal desk found in the basement is being restored ready for whoever is appointed – but already it is booked through May, June and July by word of mouth and contacts in, for instance, The Barbican Centre and the Royal Court Theatre. “It has to be somewhere creative people believe is for them, but where local people can feel comfortable meeting artists” Hartwright says.

“There’s a change in the way people are thinking about business and the arts, and at the same time a new way that young artists are thinking about their work that’s about what’s going on around them and how they inter-relate with other people” he says. “We can bring all that change together here.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Print Email

AINews