Sunday, July 30, 2006

africa centre closes

Press Release

Africa Centre, London, closes for refurbishment

In line with plans for the redevelopment of the Africa Centre, with effect from the end of July, all routine activity inside the building will cease while a series of site investigations take place and architectural plans are completed.

The purpose of the redevelopment process – enabled by a new funding dispensation from Arts Council England – is to guarantee that the institution’s main facilities can effectively serve the Centre’s mission as a flagship Arts Centre in Europe, and at the same time provide income that will ensure sustainability. Recent financial difficulties have led to the deterioration of the Centre’s Covent Garden building, hindering the full and effective use of the facilities and affecting programming.

Since being launched in 1964, the Centre has played an important role in projecting a positive face of Africa in London, and providing a focal point for all forms of cultural and social activities related to Africa, through meetings, exhibitions and performance arts.

The Council of Management, reconstituted in 2004 with a new Chair and found by the Charities Commission report of May 2005 to be "capable of effective management to take the charity forward", is determined that this role should be continued in the future, free from the uncertainties of the past twenty years.

The redevelopment process will take between 18 months and three years. During this period, Africa Centre activities, including ‘Talking Africa’, its radio programme, and ‘Africa Visions’, the annual literature programme and tour, will continue, while other projects will be developed as part of the process of charting the Centre’s future programming vision.

The Council is committed to keeping all its various stakeholders informed of developments at the Centre, and will be issuing updates on a regular basis. It would also like to assert in the strongest terms possible that there is no intention to close down or sell off the building. The Council is fully committed to retaining and developing the King Street site, which has been one of the main strengths of the Centre in its forty-year history, and offers an unrivalled shop window for Africa in central London.

Council of Management of the Africa Centre

For more information, please contact: Oliver Tunde Andrews, Chair, Council of Management, The Africa Centre, tel: 020-7836-1973; or e-mail oliver.andrews@dsl.pipex.com

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