It’s Sunday morning and I’m having breakfast in Cafe Parisienne. Yesterday we used this cafe as a base from 8am. About ten of us were sprawled across tables and when I went to pay the bill, Kazim the owner, wouldn’t let me. I felt like giving him a massive hug. During the rest of day, local estate agent Currell’s let us camp out in their offices with loads of meetings, comings and goings. Yesterday evening, one of my team went to buy some flowers at the stall outside Clapham Junction, to brighten up the Scratch Bar, a complete stranger asked if the flowers were for BAC and immediately offered to pay for them.
The way people have responded to this event is quite extraordinary. I’d like to thank everyone for their incredible support for Battersea Arts Centre and Battersea’s beautiful former Town Hall. The Battersea spirit, encapsulated in its mid-19th Century motto – Not For Me, Not For You, But For Us – is all around. And all those who are directly involved have been lifted up by this support. Thank you.
I am in awe of my team, the artists and fire brigade, who only 24 hours after the fire, helped to re-open the building, last night, and put on two sold out shows. It was great to have people back in the building. Whilst we have lost the Grand Hall, more than two thirds of the building is saved. It has been picked up by news reporters all over the UK, and almost all of them, have been amazing, in the way they have dealt with us.
Today and tomorrow I will start responding to the hundreds and hundreds of messages we have received. We have started to create what we are calling our “phoenix plan” to work out how we get the shows back on, make a plan for the organisation for the next 12 months and re-build the building.
I thought people might like to know more about how the fire has effected the existing capital project. It is early days and there is a huge amount to work through. But we think, at this moment, that the final phase of the capital project, due to be completed in early 2016, should be able to go ahead as planned. This is because the parts of building in which this project is happening are unaffected by the fire. This is a huge relief and means that the investment in that phase of the project is safe, good to know if you have donated to that project. In terms of the fire damage, we are talking with our insurance company, about the destruction of the Grand Hall and damage to the surrounding spaces. We will update everyone as plans evolve. The collection for the Wandsworth Museum is held offsite in a safe store.
For now, Battersea Arts Centre has lost its main space which was programmed with theatre, and we are seeking options to put those shows on, many of them part A Nation’s Theatre. We have also lost most of our technical equipment and office spaces. For the next week, we are going to camp out in the front half of the building and will create a more sustainable plan this week. The incredible generosity of people, donating to the National Funding Platform’s campaign, means we have a fighting fund to deal with the significant change we face over the coming weeks, months and year. Everyone at BAC is immensely grateful to everyone for contributing to this. Yesterday, we heard that Battersea Power Station want to make a major donation to the cause. More on this soon. Everyone is rallying around and we will get through this!
We are emailing all of our audiences and those on our mailing list today, and we will send out a latest-news release tomorrow morning to keep people up to date: this will be on the front page of our site. As well as dealing with the immediate crisis we are also starting to return to important projects and relationships. Whilst the fire is an enormous blow to the organisation and the building, we are determined to deliver all the great projects we are working on with people. Thanks again everyone for your ongoing support, more tomorrow.