Since the Grand Hall fire on 13 March, we’ve receive thousands of messages of support from across the world. That generosity of spirit still permeates everything we do, and has allowed us to keep our doors open over the last few months. If we could pay tribute to each and every person, each gesture, we would.
For now, here are a couple of stories of people who have done remarkable things, big and small, to support Battersea Arts Centre over the last five months…
1. The Thomas’s Choral Society presents Handel’s ‘Messiah’
Early this summer, this local choral society, directed by Sam Evans, performed ‘Messiah’ at Church of the Ascension on Lavender Hill. Dozens of Battersea residents, including our own MP Jane Ellison, took part in performing the piece, raising a tremendous £7,000 for BAC’s Phoenix Fund. The impressiveness of the performers was only matched by the appropriateness of the venue: the Church of the Ascension was, itself, struck by a devastating fire in 1979.
Marie and Jed, the lovely duo who run this traveling coffee operation, generously donated 10% of their profits to the Phoenix Fund on the day following the fire. We felt utterly touched by their gesture, so we reached out. Jed said this:
“When we first walked into BAC, Marie and I were both astounded… There is an aura about it which is not achievable by just having great shows. I believe it’s the history, the staff and the customers that make it so. It’s a very special place… So for all of these reasons, we wanted to get involved in helping BAC back on its feet, if only just a little bit.”
Jed and Marie, we salute you! (Psst… check out their website here>)
Our beloved local café was one of the first to jump into action on the night of the fire. Kazim, the owner, took cups of tea and coffee to the fire brigade and police force on site. The next day, he provided free breakfast for BAC staff. And following that, he even let us use the downstairs seating area of the café as a makeshift office, bringing us food and drink and never letting us pay a penny. Kazim is a bit of a local legend – he did the very same for other Lavender Hill business owners when the riots hit Clapham Junction several years ago. And his generosity perfectly encapsulates the old Battersea motto: ‘Not for me, not for you, but for us.’
Top tip: Parisienne does a killer fry-up.
Again, those are a very small sampling of all the hugely significant gestures of support we’ve received. We are still, even five months along, totally bowled over by the generosity of our community, both in Battersea and further afield. We cannot say ‘thank you’ enough – but we will try.