Culture Under Attack: Stop The Horse Hospital From Closing!
After 26 years of operating as an independent art space, the Horse Hospital is once again under serious threat of closure if it doesn’t meet the excessive 333% rent increase proposed by the owners of the building by 31st December 2019 when a Notice under Section 25 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 issued by the landlords brings our Tenancy to an End. As an unfunded not for profit organisation clearly any increase will be a struggle without outside help. If we are unable to negotiate a realistic rent, we shall have no alternative but to close down.
The owners have no respect for the fact that we have been looking after their investment for over 26 years and spent over £35K on a vital building renovation programme during the last 4 years alone. When we first took a lease on the building in 1993 it had been empty and unloved for many years and was all but derelict. It took over 12 months to make it habitable, but it still has no permanent heating source. Since then any spare cash goes into the building and its general upkeep. In the last 26 years the owners have not had to spend a single penny on it.
Over the years we have generated a huge international following due to the quality of our programming and our open-door policy to artists and curators as well as our anti-hierarchical structure and inclusive ethos. As one of the longest running non-commercial, unfunded and 100% independent arts venue in the UK, the Horse Hospital has been vital in supporting London’s ecology of risk-taking artistic experimentation.
We are incredibly proud of the fact that since 1993 we have not only been fortunate enough to have shown a vast amount of amazing work by artists such as Joe Coleman, Helen Chadwick, Franko B,
Brice Dellsperger, Dennis Cooper, Cameron Jamie, Laurie Lipton, Bruce Bickford, Vivienne Westwood & Malcolm McLaren, Morton Bartlett, Craig Baldwin, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Lydia Lunch, Bjaarne Melgard, and our own Turner Prize nominee Tai Shani to name but a few, but that we have also had the privilege to support and introduce literally hundreds of obscure artists, performers, filmmakers and writers, who may otherwise have been denied a voice by more mainstream organisations, to an ever-growing, receptive and appreciative audience.
The building also houses one of the world’s most important collections of subcultural clothing. Established 1978, The Contemporary Wardrobe Collection is the sole largest public access archive of post-war street fashion and youth culture in Europe, comprising over 20,000 rare garments and accessories which it regularly supplies to the fashion, film and TV industries as well as to museums around the world. The collection also serves as the principal revenue stream for the upkeep and maintenance of the building and its diverse activities.
This is the third time in 18 years that the owners Evannance Investments Ltd – whose portfolio numbers 14 properties in London and whose senior director holds a prominent position in Welsh government - have employed a series of devious tactics to get us to vacate the building, including intimidation and bullying techniques. We fought back in 2001 and managed to get the Horse Hospital Grade 2 Listed, and with great thanks to the residents of Camden in August 2015 the building was granted Community Asset status by Camden Council, and both times the owners backed off. But now the battle to survive starts all over again.
All we ask for is a fair affordable rent and a secure lease so we can continue to support our artists community and its activities and preserve this unique much loved building for future generations. It’s disgraceful the way that developers have been allowed to decimate the heart of London and leave behind huge empty office blocks and unaffordable flats all in the name of progress; this is capitalism at its worst and councils should be ashamed of themselves for helping to create a cultural desert.
In a climate where any grassroots, alternative or independent endeavours are being swept away into the dust of history it is vital that the spirit and ethos that we wholeheartedly embrace as an organisation is given a chance to survive in these ever more capitalist, corporate and homogenous times. Therefore, we shall not cease in our efforts to save this small sanctuary and make sure it is preserved as part of Bloomsbury’s rich cultural heritage.
How can you help?
Fortunately, we managed to get the Horse Hospital Grade 2 Listed back in 2001, and with great thanks to the residents of Camden the building was also granted Community Asset status by Camden Council in August 2015.
Now our status as a Community Asset urgently needs to be renewed by August 7th 2019. This is the first step towards securing our future, so we once again call upon the good will of our neighbours in Camden to rise to the cause…
If you are registered to vote in Camden please take a moment to fill out the form at the bottom of this page with your name, address and email to join the ‘Friends of The Horse Hospital’ and re-nominate us as a Community Asset in order for the Horse Hospital to retain its integrity as an important alternative art space.
We thank you for your continuing support.
‘Culture Under ATTACK’ in THE NEWS
“Rent Rise puts arts space’s future in jeopardy”
Founder Roger Burton and Co-curator Letitia Callin recently talked to Samantha Booth of West End Extra about our battle to stop the Horse Hospital from closing!