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Connecting Crouch End and Hornsey with news, views and information

Last Sunday, May 14th,  21 artists of the Crouch End Open Studios were busy with their eighth annual Open Studios, showing and selling their work to people from all over North London.

We were most surprised to visited by a representative of Artangel and the Company of Angels,  bearing leaflets advertising 'Yael Bartana: And Europe Will Be Stunned' which we were asked to distribute via our Open Studios event.

I have just read Laura Cummings review of  'Yael Bartana: And Europe Will Be Stunned'. I have never been to the Venice Biennale and was not aware until last sunday of the existence of this work, which sounds very interesting.

Unprecedently, this work is to be shown in the Hornsey Town Hall which will be open for 6 weeks, on six days of the week, from approx 13.00 to 20 or 21 hours. Entry will be free. I am sure the trilogy will be well worth seeing, and many Crouch Enders will be delighted to have the opportunity to visit their Town Hall.

The Town Hall, a 1930's listed building,  has been largely inaccessible to local people for over 20 years. The Crouch End Open Studios with the support of Hornsey Town Hall Creative Trust  and Haringey Council did manage to hold a single weekend exhibition of sculpture and installation there in 2008, but by 2011 it was much too expensive and local groups encountered far too many obstacles that prevented them from access. For the last few years it has been rented out to film production companies ('The Hour', Whitechapel') while awaiting finance for re-development as a base for Mountview Theatre School. Last sunday we learned that one of the films of the trilogy is to be shown in the Council Chamber, a space that we have never been allowed to access for Health and Safety reasons- asbestos/structural/ electrical problems have all been cited in the past.

The event appears to have been arranged without any consultation with local artists or any representatives of the local community - our Crouch End Councillor did not realise that the Council Chamber was now accessible, nor that the Car Park was available. Only the previous weekend, the organisers of the Crouch End Festival ( we are a lively place) had been told it was impossible to unable to obtain power for their loud speakers from the adjacent Town Hall. I note that the website of Hornsey Town Hall Creative Trust was last updated in July 2011, when the sale to Mountview was announced, and I conclude that they had little or no involvement in arranging this event  which I suspect was promoted by a well-meaning but narrowly-focused Council official with ‘Big Art’ contacts, but none to the local artistic community.

Crouch End people have spent many years campaigning for the Town Hall to be brought into use as an arts centre and we are delighted that others, who I will term the representatives of 'Big Art',  have seen the attractions of the building for this purpose.

But we were surprised, and frankly upset, by the seemingly immaculate conception of this event,  its 'one-off' nature, and the complete failure of Haringey Council or Artangel to contact, involve, publicise, imagine or attempt to build opportunities for local artists around this event. It calls into question not only the commitment of Haringey Council to the development of the arts, but the nature and value of 'Big Art',  and its relation to community, arts funding and local authorities.

An excellent opportunity to support Haringey artists, engage with the local community, and develop our Town Hall has been missed and I believe others would concur  when I say we feel shat upon from a great height.

I hope this letter airs the matter of the interaction, or lack of interaction, between big publicly funded arts organisations such as Artangel, local councils, and the large hinterland of practicing and struggling professional artists such as those to be found in Crouch End, Haringey.

I feel it illustrates how important it is that the people of Crouch End ensure that the lease of the Town Hall to Mountview includes clear rights of access for a regular and subsidised program of locally initiated events. Crouch End Open Studios called for this last year, in a letter to the Hornsey Town Hall Creative Trust. I will post a copy later.

Kim Valdez, a Crouch End artist

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Replies to This Discussion

Today I got some fliers for the event. Three copies on the front doorstep, where 1 through the letter box would have been enough. Good news perhaps, Haringey want me to recycle more!

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