New home for Black Cultural Archives - Raleigh Hall

Discussion in 'Brixton' started by Nickster, Mar 6, 2006.

  1. editor

    editor hiraethified

  2. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    Thanks for this report .

    Its a nice courtyard and cafe space. Good to see its open on Saturday now as it was not always open on Sat when I went to see exhibition there.

    Wish they would advertise it more. Its a good spot but to be frank BCA does not always feel that inviting.
  3. Manter

    Manter Lunch Mob

    Completely agree with you
    Nanker Phelge and Gramsci like this.
  4. DJWrongspeed

    DJWrongspeed radio eros

    Great space. Went to a lovely theatre piece there by the Oval youth theatre crew. It was in the court yard and I was excited to be in a new space in Brixton. The end of the show was everyone (including audience) dancing !! I'm sure the cafe will do well, every where else is so busy.
    Gramsci likes this.
  5. Nanker Phelge

    Nanker Phelge Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.

    Did you inform them it does not always feel that inviting?
  6. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member


    Just making a comment here.
  7. Manter

    Manter Lunch Mob

    Half the time not that inviting is doors closed and no one in sight! I have said 'oh I wondered if you were closed' before, but they don't seem that fussed. No idea what their funding model is, but a busy we'll run shop and cafe is often pretty lucrative (sad but true) in cultural/heritage.
    Gramsci likes this.
  8. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    There were getting funding from the Council. This is being phased out in a couple of years time. So to stay open they will have to find alternative funds.

    A cafe can make money. For cinemas like Ritzy the revenue from cafe and food sales is important- ticket sale are not enough.
  9. editor

    editor hiraethified

  10. editor

    editor hiraethified

    Gramsci likes this.
  11. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

  12. editor

    editor hiraethified

    I agree. There's something about the place that just doesn't seem so inviting. I was disappointed that there was so little exhibition space - upstairs was all closed off with a classroom and the archives empty and locked. I thought there'd be much more than the one floor exhibition space and small shop. Seems a wasted opportunity.

    The cafe is really nice though but it's usually sparsely attended whenever I've visited.
    Gramsci likes this.
  13. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    One of photos in Brixton Buzz piece shows Zadie Smith's latest novel Swingtime.I just read her first novel White Teeth. It's a great novel about living in multicultural Britain.
  14. urbanspaceman

    urbanspaceman Well-Known Member

    Yes, although I walk by BCA every day, I rarely go in. The exhibition space isn't big enough for displays of any substance and the cafe isn't exactly welcoming - unless that is you are a member of the "in-crowd", in which case you can expect an effusive welcome. Separately, it's heartbreaking that people graffiti the walls, and the other day I walked past an old man pissing on the wall facing Saltoun Road - literally pissing on his heritage. I remonstrated with him, but he was so out of it, that I don't think it registered.
    Gramsci and brixtonblade like this.
  15. editor

    editor hiraethified

    It seem strange to have so little exhibition space when the building is so big.
  16. GarveyLives

    GarveyLives Well-Known Member

    I am sure we all agree with these concerns ...


    ... perhaps you can therefore persuade the as yet unidentified police officer shown arresting African charity workers 300m away from the Black Cultural Archives on 1 September 2016 to reassess his policing priorities.
  17. brixtonblade

    brixtonblade Well-Known Member

    You want the coppers to start hassling street pissers?
  18. editor

    editor hiraethified

    He just can't help himself posting up the same off topic picture with bold text because HIS POSTS ARE SO IMPORTANT.
  19. DJWrongspeed

    DJWrongspeed radio eros

    Agree about the exhibition space. The proportions are all wrong. The shop is about half the size of the gallery. Well maybe it'll be reworked, new buildings can take time to get right. The courtyard is a welcome addition and it's great they can have performances of all kinds in that space. Saw some ace jazz there the other saturday, really good vibe. The Oval theatre used for a series of youth performances as well.
  20. Angellic

    Angellic Well-Known Member

    Went to BCA a few days ago with a friend who was visiting. Was immediately greeted by member of staff called LB, welcoming and ebullient. 2nd time I've been but the exhibition space is too small but enjoyed the exhibition. Ate in the cafe and had some delicious soup, it was just before the recent heatwave. Prices were not written up which meant you had to ask. Not great. Staff in cafe were nice as well.
    Gramsci likes this.
  21. editor

    editor hiraethified

    Yeah, the cafe staff are always lovely.
  22. GarveyLives

    GarveyLives Well-Known Member

    Happy Birthday !
    Gramsci and Nanker Phelge like this.
  23. GarveyLives

    GarveyLives Well-Known Member

    brixtonblade likes this.
  24. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    As much as I support the idea of a Black Cultural Archive what is going on here?

    They got the building virtually for free from the Council, got help from Council to refurbish it plus lottery funding. Yet can't make a go of it.

    Was the business plan flawed?

    Is the argument now that this should be funded by central government?

    If so why was this not done in the first place?

    Looks like the Council are now shovelling money into the bottomless pit of BCA.

    No one has asked if present management of BCA are up to the job.
    editor, Casaubon, Angellic and 2 others like this.
  25. MissL

    MissL Well-Known Member

    It would be interesting to see where visitors come from. Whether they're just locals popping in as they pass by or whether people actually travel from elsewhere. I suspect locals, as I don't think the exhibitions are substantial enough to attract people from far and wide. It needs a radical rethink to get more people through the door.
    Gramsci and editor like this.
  26. Winot

    Winot I wholeheartedley agree with your viewpoint

    I’ve been in maybe 4-5 times (I’m a local). The exhibition space is too small and the exhibition design has been lacklustre on most occasions. The design of the entrance to the exhibition space is awkward, and on perhaps half of my visits the welcome from the person on the front desk has been equally awkward.

    I haven’t seen the archives. I don’t know to what extent the public space is an afterthought to a primary objective of being an archive, but at the moment imo it’s not a success
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  27. MissL

    MissL Well-Known Member

    Money's on it requiring some handsomely-remunerated consultant/s to get it right.
    Gramsci and editor like this.
  28. editor

    editor hiraethified

    I agree. I think they could have done much, much more with that space. All those local stories and memories to be told, and all that talent, and all we get is none-too-inspiring exhibitions that seem to go on forever. The cafe should be the beating heart of the place, but even that seems almost empty whenever I've been.
    Gramsci likes this.
  29. Boudicca

    Boudicca Seaside Queen

    I went in last year with a friend who runs an Afro-Caribbean organisation here in Bournemouth. They were unfriendly, unhelpful and generally a bit up themselves.

    And yes, the cafe is a major opportunity missed.
    Gramsci likes this.
  30. urbanspaceman

    urbanspaceman Well-Known Member

    I think that there are several problems, which taken together, sadly don't bode well for BCA.

    Is it a museum or an archive ? If it's an archive, it doesn't require a fancy public building - it could be tucked away in a cheaper location, available as required for visiting scholars. Even cheaper to become a tenant of some other existing archive (National Archives in Kew ?, British Library ?), where high archival standards are guaranteed. If it's a museum, the exhibition space is too small, being hardly much bigger than my living room. You can see everything in a few minutes. I had imagined that BCA might become a draw for visiting African-Americans, as well as people from all over the UK, but it's just not big enough to be worth the detour.

    I think that management may not be up to the job. Paul Reid, the Director, has been around for years, but keeps an underwhelmingly low profile. He doesn't even have a LinkedIn profile or Twitter account. Running an institution of national importance, such as BCA, is a job for a well-networked, academically-credentialed, professional - i.e. someone like the ex-Deputy Director of BCA, Doreen Foster, who recently quit BCA to start a big new job at Warwick. The Chair, Dawn Hill, is a distinguished older lady, but I wonder whether she possesses the skills or sheer relentless drive needed to secure the future of a newly-founded institution. She seems to be in a non-exec type role, while what is needed is an engaged dynamic, exec Chairman, who is a recognisable public figure. There is a big board and a lot of patrons, including Chuka, and indefatigable self-promoter Miranda Brawn, some of whom appear to be connected. I wonder whether they have been instructed to get out there and rustle up some cash.

    BCA was over-budget, and late. The capital cost was entirely tax-payer funded (I can't find evidence of private donations) via the GLA, Heritage Lottery Fund and Lambeth. When project management disintegrated into chaos, Lambeth saved the day with more funding, and the deep reservoir of civic competence that it can deploy when at its best. BCA was given four years of operating funding too. And now, suddenly, there's a funding crisis. A friend of mine in this line of work told me that running an institution like this means one thing: endless fund-raising, whether taxpayer-supported or private donation. It's a grinding, all-consuming, never-ending occupation. BCA seems to have a sense of entitlement. Reid et al. have raised little cash over the past four years (see accounts, link below)

    BCA seems lackadasical about exploiting its physical assets. The bookshop is small and tucked away. The cafe is (in my lived experience) a bit unfriendly. It's not signposted for passers-by, and is sparsely-provisioned. It looks rather temporary. Rooms are available for hire, but I only found this out when scrutinising the website. I have often thought that the courtyard would be a good place to hold a (lucrative) weekend market.

    I have a feeling that BCA will go onto life-support, being closed almost all the time, and sacking its full-time staff. Politically, it's too embarrassing to let it collapse completely.

    Doreen Foster appointed new Director of Warwick Arts Centre

    Board of Trustees biographies
    BLACK CULTURAL ARCHIVES LTD - Filing history (free information from Companies House)
    Tricky Skills, Rushy, Winot and 3 others like this.

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