This week Battersea Arts Centre is moving forward, strengthened by overwhelming support from individuals and organisations, following a fire of devastating scale that broke out on Friday afternoon. All staff and visitors were evacuated to safety.
The Grand Hall, where the fire appears to have started, is completely destroyed. This tragically includes intricate plasterwork, the console of a historic theatre organ as well as the set for the show Missing by Gecko.
At the back of the building the Lower Hall has also suffered severe damage, although the full impact on its structure is yet be determined. Surrounding spaces have also been affected by the huge amount of water necessary to put out the fire and staff offices and technical equipment have also been lost.
The brilliant work of the London Fire Brigade and other emergency services on the scene on Friday meant that the front of the building was untouched and able to reopen to the public on Saturday evening, with two sold out shows going ahead as planned. Artefacts from Wandsworth Museum, which recently announced a partnership with Battersea Arts Centre, are also safe in a dedicated off-site storage unit.
Battersea Arts Centre cannot adequately express its deepest gratitude to those who have given their support on the ground as well as the thousands of well-wishers that have taken to social media to offer their messages of heartbreak and hope.
Remarkably, in the space of two days over 1,750 people have given over £52,000 to the donations page created by the National Fundraising Scheme, don8.to/bac012. This generosity has been mirrored by Battersea Power Station, who have pledged a further £100,000 towards the organisation’s much loved home in its time of need.
Whilst an investigation takes place to uncover the cause of the fire and experts assess the full extent of the damage caused, Battersea Arts Centre is fervently committed to operating as normally as possible. Shows and workshops, the Scratch Bar and The Bee’s Knees indoor play space, are up and running as usual.
As of today, a three-part action plan is being set into motion:
· Alternative spaces are being sought for shows due to take place in the Grand Hall · A new financial model is being drafted for the next 12 months
· The process of rebuilding what has been lost is being assessed and discussed
Battersea Arts Centre is also underwriting the cost of rebuilding the set of Gecko’s Missing so that the process can begin without delay to enable the company to undertake an upcoming tour to Mexico.
The final phase of Battersea Arts Centre’s Capital Project, due to be completed in spring 2016, is set to continue as planned as the areas undergoing redevelopment are unaffected by the fire.
David Jubb, Artistic Director and CEO of Battersea Arts Centre:
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.
Press Contact: Olivia Ivens | firstname.lastname@example.org