Ealing's 'Doomed Bid' To Become Borough of Culture

Council's policy is severely criticised by local arts organisation


Plans to Downsize Town Centre Library 'Mad, Bad and Sad'

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Ealing's Council Leader has been sent a highly critical letter about the borough's arts policy in light of it attempting to become the London Borough of Culture 2019.

The competition, launched by the Mayor of London is aimed at showcasing the best of arts and culture and the winning borough would benefit from over £1 million of investment. Council leader Julian Bell said, ''Ealing knows how to celebrate people and places, and reveal the value of culture in bringing everyone together to strengthen our community. We need to show how culture will contribute to making Ealing a great place. It’s a competition across London and we know we have a lot to offer and can win.”

However, Gill Rowley who heads Ealing Arts and Leisure thinks the bid is doomed describing Ealing Council as ''the most determinedly anti-culture, anti-arts, anti-heritage council that could be imagined''.

In her letter to Councillor Bell she lists why Ealing Council is ill equipped to take part in this competition.

She says Ealing Council, ''has thwarted artistic endeavour for many years by withdrawing funding and raising the hire rates at the Town Hall to such a degree that the vast majority of arts organisations cannot afford to use this community amenity, and have precious few alternative options.
- is selling off the Town Hall for commercial purposes, thereby removing what little facility has been available, albeit at high cost, and depriving Ealing of a heritage building paid for by public
- outsourced its libraries to a property company (now in severe financial difficulty)
- is selling off Ealing Central Library to British Land, despite having just a few years ago spent
millions of pounds of council taxpayers’ money on refurbishing it. Rather than insisting that this
sordid deal should fund a facility of at least equal size and book stock, LBE is proposing a 64 per
cent reduction in space and a reduction in book stock of 71 per cent at another location
- is reducing ECL’s Local History facility to a cubicle in West Ealing Library and removing its
holdings to ‘deep storage’ where it will be as good as lost to the community
- has allowed the Pitzhanger Manor renovation, funded from council tax as well as other sources, to exclude community art gallery space in its revised plans. Ealing has no gallery space
whatever. Artists living within the borough, many of them highly distinguished, have to exhibit
elsewhere in London
- has no concert hall or similar performance space
- has had no cinema for ten years
- has no professional theatre.''

She concludes by asking why Cllr Bell thinks LBE is 'in any way qualified to launch this bid, and why any voluntary organisation should put effort into it?'

We have requested and are awaiting a response from Ealing Council.

The bid is due to be submitted on 1 December with the winner will be announced February 2018.

1 November 2017


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