Connecting Crouch End and Hornsey with news, views and information
The announcement is so exclusive that I can find no mention of it on the Haringey website where the Hornsey Town Hall page has nothing since 8th October 2013, except a link to the disastrous Gateway Review long after it happened. Nor is there any mention of the London Borough of Haringey in the article?
I have now booked my tickets for December 6th .
Cllr Alan Strickland has sent an email to colleagues. According to my research ANA Arts Projects has a track record stretching back nearly a month.
Dear Colleagues,You may have seen in today’s Ham and High information about an exciting interim project due to begin at Hornsey Town Hall in December. The Hornsey Town Hall Arts Centre will be a year-long programme of community and arts events and activities, including exhibitions, studio space, live music and community activities.The programme is being led by a group called ANA Arts Projects, who have a track record of delivering cultural events at a range of locations, including the Southbank Centre and the Science Museum. They will be issuing a press release tomorrow to announce their programme, which will start in early December with a free “open house” celebration for the local community.The programme of events will allow the community access to the Town Hall during the coming year, while we continue to explore options for the long-term future of the building. We are still working closely with Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts on their plans to make the building their permanent home, alongside a range of community activities. We’re also looking at whether any other options for the future of the building may be viable.In the meantime, I hope that the programme of events over the coming 12 months or so will be a success.Let me know if you need anything else on this.Many thanksAlanCouncillor Alan Strickland
Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Housing
Councillor for Noel Park ward (Labour)
I've seen a couple of positive comments on Facebook pages, pointing out that this is just what the Town Hall needs. But, most people I've spoken to are slightly bemused. Opening up to artists and musicians has been what the Town Hall has needed for more than a decade now. Why suddenly is this project considered suitable?
I have entered into an exchange of emails with Cllr Jason Arthur, his latest reply is pasted in below:
I’m disappointed to hear that you’ve heard negative comments, especially as I’m aware that both ANA Arts Projects and I have received very positive responses from the majority of residents.
Some responses to your specific points are below.
The press release refers to previously restricted areas, i.e. not Secret Cinema spaces.
The article does refer to previously restricted areas, however this is in the context of ‘back of house’ areas the public were not able to access when the building was fully functional. These spaces were used by Secret Cinema.
"what credibility do these people have?"
Examples of work they have done elsewhere include events at the top of the Shard; a Halloween programme at the Vaults; a series of events at National Trust landmarks which are not usually open for public events including Charterhouse, Fullers Brewery, St Brides on Fleet St, the Reform Club; the Brighton Comedy Festival, and events at the Assembly Theatre in Edinburgh, St Clements Hospital and more.
"we feel as though we have been burgled"
Again, I’m disappointed to read this. It’s my view that bringing activity to the building and finding new for public access over the next year is a positive thing for the community. The Council welcomes proposals for use of the building and ANA Arts Projects Ltd have made clear that they are happy to work with community groups and individuals who may wish to stage events or activities at the Town Hall during the coming year.
" they say they are collaborating with us , but they don't reply to our emails"
My understanding is that the launch events (tickets for these can be found on their website http://www.hthartscentre.co.uk/events/ ) will provide more information on opportunities for people to use the building.
"apparently they have paid £100,000 for the lease"
I’m not able to share commercially sensitive information about the licence, although any fees from the licence will be invested in running costs for the Town Hall.
What selection process was used to choose this team?
ANA Arts Project approached the council with a proposal for parts of the town hall to be used while the options appraisal of future long-term uses of the building is continued. The proposal was welcomed as it meets the objectives of having interim activity within the building, which allows the doors to open. There was not a formal shortlisting process.
Where was the opportunity advertised?
Information about hiring Hornsey Town Hall for interim uses is available on the council website. All reasonable proposals would be considered.
Have all the necessary EU procurement rules been followed?
As this is not a works or services contract, EU procurement rules would not be applicable.
If you have more questions about ANA Arts Projects then I would recommend you coming along to the launch event if you’re free so that you can meet the guys for yourself.
Cllr Jason Arthur
Cabinet Member for Resources and Culture
Councillor for Crouch End (Labour)
Text of an open letter sent this afternoon to Cllrs Strickland and Arthur.
Dear Alan and Jason
Like so many Crouch Enders I was pleased to read in the Ham and High that at last there is going to be use made of Hornsey Town Hall. The next fifteen months offer an incredible opportunity to evaluate the potential of this building to stage arts events and to engage with the wider Haringey population.
Haringey has signed over the running of HTH to three friends (none of whom live in the borough) collectively known as ANA who will run the building as The Hornsey Town Hall Arts Centre and seek “to bring the feel of the Edinburgh Festival to Crouch End”.
As I read the article further, it was hard to get my head round exactly what the announcement was actually saying. That is why I am writing an open letter to you both to ask you to share with us exactly what is happening.
Let us put aside for a minute that Haringey and Crouch End already has one of the country’s finest community arts festivals (CEF), Europe’s most successful community chorus (CEFC), several well established arts collectives (including CEOS), the terrific Crouch End Players and a cultural and artistic hinterland unsurpassed in London. Perhaps we should also pass over the fact that as far as I can make out none of these groups were actually aware that discussions were taking place with ANA never mind given the opportunity to participate.
Could you tell us if Mountview were invited to make a similar bid or if ANA were encouraged to work with them?
For the past decade there have been innumerable requests for access to HTH by various local arts groups and nearly all turned down with the dreaded words ”Sorry, Health and Safety”. What has happened to change this access policy? Does HTH now have a Public Performance/Entertainment licence? If so, what arrangements have been put into place for disabled access and compliance with modern fire regs?
There also questions over what the arrangement with ANA allows them to do – are they allowed to use the building for their own artistic/business activities or are they there exclusively to host and enable others?
A little Googling confirms that the three have certainly staged one off events in some pretty prestigious venues: but have they ever run or worked in an arts centre and developed, with the community, a cultural programme? What criteria and measures have you set for community engagement and community access? What is the role of the HTH Creative Trust?
The financial arrangements seem a little opaque: will they be paying rent to Haringey? Have they been given a short lease? If so, what is the rent and how was it calculated? What sort of insurance have you asked them to arrange? Have they had to lodge a bond with you against any damage?
The H&H also says that they would like to hand back the Town Hall “in an improved state”. This is a Grade II* listed building (on the EH at risk register); is there a schedule of works that they have signed up to or will they be allowed to make ad hoc “improvements”? Are there any parts of the building that are out of bounds?
The last time I was in the Council Chamber a LBH officer would not let me touch, never mind sit on, the old leather seats in there. They are in a very distressed condition and await restoration yet the chamber is now being promoted as an area to hire. How with it be protected?
Everyone in Crouch End and the wider Haringey community are desperate to get HTH fully up and running. But we also want transparency and hope that you see this letter as an opportunity to engage with us and share what is happening in this wonderful building.
hats off to Cllr Strickland for coming back so quickly with a response to my letter (above).
I haven't had a chance to go through the detailed points but am pleased that he mentions ANA working with the local community. He does though rather skirt round the question of why local groups and Mountview were not brought in at the very start of the negotiations with ANA: I know for a fact that some this as a slap in the face.
What is not so pleasing is that the question of community engagement is not nailed down in some sort of agreement and minimum standard. there are so many words like "hope", "keen to" used in his letter. ANA are a commercial organisation and will want to make some money out of their occupation of HTH. Nothing wrong with that, but hat happens if they get approaches from local arts groups to use the building that clash with their schedule of events?
A really welcome sign of their intent would be for them to call an open meeting with arts groups and other interested parties to set out their plans and to work with locals to produce some sort of artistic programme for the next fourteen months. Further, hire charges for using the spaces must be realistic and reflect the essential voluntary nature of most of what happens in Crouch end and the wider Borough.
The other key concern is conservation. This is an incredibly sensitive building with so much of the original structure, fabric and fittings: I hope English Heritage are aware of what is happening and will work with Haringey Officers to ensure that ANA know the importance of what they have taken on.
Your comments welcome.
Thank you for your letter and I’m pleased to hear that, along with many local residents, you are enthusiastic about the Town Hall being put to use during the coming year or so.
We are proud of Crouch End’s strong arts and culture scene, and I’m confident that the plans brought forward by ANA will help to support and enhance this, as well as ensuring local residents can enjoy access to the building and an exciting programme of events and activities.
ANA (along with others) approached the Council with a proposal for interim use for the coming year, as all groups have been free to do (and as some have done on occasion). As you will be aware, the building has been used for a number of interim events during the past couple of years, and we consider all submissions to stage events at the building, prioritising those that enhance its cultural history.
While ANA are not local residents, I know that they are keen to work with the local community and with local arts groups to make the coming year a success. My understanding is that they’ve already been in contact with other groups, including Crouch End Festival, and have scheduled their opening party to coincide with Crouch End Festival’s winter market this weekend.
Our hope, which is shared by ANA, is for the coming year to offer an opportunity for a variety of groups to use the Town Hall, for community events, exhibitions, rehearsal space, etc. ANA will welcome any approaches from local groups eager to make use of the building.
We have been working, and continue to work, with Mountview on their plans for a permanent scheme at Hornsey Town Hall and we remain committed to finding the right solution for the long-term future of the building. Mountview did not put forward their own proposals for interim use, but I understand that ANA have made contact with them to talk about opportunities for joint working.
You’re right that health and safety remains a concern at Hornsey Town Hall, and ANA are responsible for addressing these concerns before the building is opened to the public, in much the same way as Secret Cinema did earlier this year. The kind of robust health and safety measures needed for a building like Hornsey Town Hall (including surveys and £25m public liability insurance) are expensive and can therefore prohibit smaller groups from being able to use the building.
ANA’s events will operate initially under a temporary events notice and will seek to obtain the full premises license shortly. They are working with London Fire Brigade to ensure appropriate safety measures, and are reviewing accessibility to try to ensure as many people as possible can enjoy events. Both safety and accessibility will be reviewed for each event staged by ANA, who are working to create a rolling programme of activity.
In addition to the events license, ANA have entered into a building licence to occupy for 14 months, which enables the Council to review proposed use of the space, including considering ANA’s own activities and those staged by groups that they host.
As I’ve already made clear, ANA are keen to engage with the community and both the Council and Hornsey Town Hall Creative Trust will be working with them on an engagement plan. We’re committed to keeping local residents informed of events and opportunities at the Town Hall, and HTHCT will be supporting this as well as continuing to contribute to options for the long-term future of the building.
ANA’s licence agreement allows the Council to continue the licence if the Arts Centre is a success but to terminate it if it is not successful. ANA are responsible for repairs as a result of any activity they stage and will pay a license fee for the building, but the financial details of their license are commercially sensitive and therefore data protected.
ANA are keen to make a positive contribution to the building and to allow the local community access to this much-loved asset. Any improvement works would of course be first assessed by the Council’s Conservation Officer before being signed off. Some parts of the building will remain out of bounds and fragile materials will be protected, including covering the Council Chamber chairs with temporary material approved by the conservation officer.
We understand and share the community’s eagerness to see Hornsey Town Hall in use, which is why we’re so excited by ANA’s proposals. I’d urge you and residents to attend one of ANA’s project launch events, visit their website at www.hthartscentre.co.uk or contact them directly to find out more and get involved with what we all hope will be a really successful year for the building and allow it to be put to use while we continue to work to secure its long-term future as a Crouch End landmark.
Councillor Alan Strickland
Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Housing
Indeed, it is good to get a reply from Cllr Strickland so promptly.
There are still one or two things that trouble me.
1) please can we have sight of the licence? I am involved in the project to refurbish the Finsbury Park Athletics Track. In many ways the situation there is similar to the Town Hall. The track is an important piece of infrastructure, much loved by those who use it, and the loss of which is, to many, unthinkable. Over the years the track has not been well maintained and now needs a considerable capital investment. The parallels are clear. As far as the track goes the terms of the licence are fully open and free for the public to see on the Haringey website (Finsbury Park Track licence). Please could we have the ANA licence published in the same way
2) Success for the Finsbury Park Sports Partnership is well defined in terms of athlete numbers, increasing use over the years, capital raised, income targets and a wide spread of sports clubs using the facility. Cllr Strickland refers to "success" at Hornsey Town Hall and a possible extension of the licence. Please can we see how success has been defined in this case?
3) There are a number of caveats in Cllr Strickland's response. There is work to be done on the safety aspects with the London Fire Brigade - I hope this is sorted out prior to Saturday night's open house. There is work to be done on defining "an engagement plan" - what are the terms and timescales for this?
4) Cllr Strickland refers to commercially sensitive information, yet Cllr Arthur has told me that this is not a contract which is subject to normal procurement rules. Is this not a contradiction? The deal is done, there is no further competition. Please let the rate payers how good a deal has been done on their behalf.
I have seen a response to an FoI about the ANA arrangements, in which Haringey become even more tight lipped than in response to non-FoI questions. They have a variety of techniques for fobbing off unwanted attention
There is a piece in today's Ham and High in which David Winskill articulates some of the doubts many of us have. Backing up his questions with emails to our councillors and to Alan Strickland might get results. Everyone, except Haringey, agrees that we need enough information to answer the 'chancers' vs 'saviours of a precious asset' question.