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Suitable tenants in the New Gallery at Hornsey Central Library

A debate has sprung up on Facebook about the new tenants in the New Gallery at our local Crouch End library. I reproduce the words below,( though I have stripped out all the web page mark up, which can be a bit burdensome).  The discussion contains a quote from Jason Arthur  (Crouch End councillor) which he put in various emails, including one to me.

I haven't checked any of the details from Facebook. I assume that the YMCA tenancy is actually happening.

My view on it is that I'm pleased to see a paying (?) tenant in the space. Tenants there come and go and any rent probably goes to offset the cost of running the library (??). For a great many years now this downstairs gallery has been offices. I do remember when David Temple (before he was famous) held singing classes there, which my daughters went to, but that must have been around 1990. The upstairs gallery (Original as opposed to New) still has influential exhibitions, and time travellers frequent the very reasonably priced coffee bar.

The New Gallery, the old art gallery on the ground floor of Hornsey library has a new owner. After years of neglect and various groups wanting it to reopen as a creative space, which we need in the area, Haringey Council has found a tenant. An artist collective? A drama group? An open space space for art, poetry and film? Or for creative groups for kids? No, the very opposite, the YMCA accounts department. What an insult to creativity! Proving Haringey has to be the least supportive council of creativity in London.

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Jacqueline Osley But there was someone who was hoping to set up workshop space there for artists and makers, who would have also paid rent. Surely this would have been a more fitting use of space for a library?

1 hr · Like


Karen Peacock Why would artists and makers be more fitting for a library? A library is a collection of information and source of learning, offering resources for the community. The YMCA is accessible to the whole community. A workshop space for artists and makers supports only a small section of that community?

1 hr · Like


Paul Soper I think the point is that offices house administration and galleries house art - or at least that's how it is supposed to happen - in fact the New Gallery has been occupied by commercial bodies for many years and we should, perhaps, be thankful that a slightly more worthy tenant has been found. We should also be thankful that, unlike most other boroughs, Haringey has sought to protect the library service. Can anyone remember the last time the New Gallery was actually used as an art space? Adrian R Essex has dug this up - "Re. Hornsey library – the rumour is false. There are no plans to close Hornsey Library. We have made political commitment to keep all nine libraries open across the borough. At a time of significant financial challenge for the council (we will need to find c£70m over the next four years), we are actually having conversations on how we can invest further in our libraries so that they really become community hubs (building on the excellent work that already happens). A report will likely be going to Cabinet in the new year setting out plans in more detail" Cllr Jason Arthur. An art space is worthy but I'd rather see the libraries kept open...

52 mins · Like


Jacqueline Osley I just feel that artists' workshops fit in more with the Library which is NOT just a source of information and learning, Karen Peacock. If you look at what's on there, you will find film showings, DVDs, singing and story sessions for youngsters, yoga,...See More

45 mins · Like


Karen Peacock I guess that's what it comes down to then - prioritising scarce resources - real estate.

34 mins · Like


Gemma Jammin I'd rather it was a YMCA area than something entirely commercial. We do need arts and creativity, granted. It shouldn't be an issue that this space will be used by a worthwhile company, or am I missing the point entirely?

14 mins · Like

Tags: hornsey library, new gallery, ymca

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A couple of years ago I tried to engage with Haringey about the future running of several bits of the library. The only real success I can point to is the Zen Garden in the middle of the building where several residents have worked incredibly hard to clean the area up, power wash the paving stones, plant new species and rearrange the planters. Most people would agree that it looks a lot better. We asked haringey if we could have a tap to water. They went away and came back to say that Procurement had a quote - £600+ for a single cold tap. It was the sort of job that one person could do in about 2 hours.They couldn't afford it but generously said it would be alight for the group to raise money for it! We declined thier offer and still cart watering cans around.

We also tried to set up a community panel to work with Haringey on the running of the upstairs gallery. we met several times and one of our members wrote a vision: nothing came of it.

While this was happening I organised a meeting with local artists, CEF, CEOS and Haringey Officers to suggest that the (long empty) New Gallery could easily be converted into artists' workshops - either by a community based group, Haringey itself or an outside organisation that specialises in these things: a sort of mini Chocolate Factory. I never received a proper response to the suggestion but found out some time later, by accident, that the space (ground floor and basement) had been let to the YMCA. This represents a missed opportunity as the council could have had a rental income and used a scarce resource to encourage artists and small businesses. 

Instead, they went for the "safe" option and missed an opportunity to do something needed and wanted by the community.


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