Convener(s): Nick Sweeting

Participants: Alot

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

A gathering of many – eager to support BAC and endorse its place as the roots of British theatre in wake of Wandsworth Council’s proposed grant cuts and rent increases.

Some ways you can help them fight the Council’s proposals:

By the end of January there are six things you can do. Please try and do as many as you can.

  1. March from BAC to Wandsworth Borough Council on 27th January at 11am with us
  2. If you live in Wandsworth write to, call or go and meet your Wandsworth councillor
  3. If you live in or out of Wandsworth write to, call or go and meet your MP
  4. Come to the public meeting on 6th February at Wandsworth Borough Council
  5. Tell us if you know people who can help us prevent these funding cuts, email David Jubb [email protected]
  6. Spread the message far and wide
  7. Vote with your feet, see our shows!
  8. Email [email protected] to volunteer time

Any other thoughts please e-mail David – [email protected]

BAC is actively lobbying Wandsworth Borough Council for change. We very much welcome others who have contact with local and national conservatives who may be able to influence the decision.
BAC is not currently running a puiblic campaign but if you haven’t already you can register your support for a possible public campaign at [email protected]

Wandsworth Borough Council proposes to cut BAC’s annual funding to zero at the same time as proposing a commercial rent for BAC’s occupation of the Old Town Hall on Lavender Hill

BAC is baffled by the council’s proposals, in light of all the dialogue between BAC and the Council to date, regarding BAC’s funding, rent and lease position. 

The Council’s decision to cut BAC’s funding to zero seems to be part of wide cost-cutting exercise to help keep council tax low as low as possible. The Council’s decision to change to a commercial rent marks a sudden change of direction in lease negotiations. These two measures make BAC’s continued operation impossible.

BAC is seeking an urgent meeting with the council for clarification of their position.


  • is running a £300k education and participation programme for 3,500 Wandsworth school children
  • is the borough’s flagship arts organisation with a national and international reputation
  • is winner of Wandsworth Council’s Best Community Contribution by a Business Award in 2006
  • was created by and for the people of Wandsworth and is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary
  • attracts 100,000 visits from local Wandsworth people
  • attracts 120,000 visitors to the borough every year
  • brings £1.8 million per annum of direct investment in to the Borough through additional fundraising
  • provides a home for 10 Battersea businesses
  • is currently in receipt of funding from Wandsworth Borough Council that costs Wandsworth residents 38p each per year


October 2005

Council agrees to BAC’s request for long term lease on terms affiordable to BAC

Council report for Environment & Public Services Overview & Scrutiny Committee 1st November 2005 re BAC’s proposal for twenty year lease on Old Town Hall::

“A long lease is now a standard requirement of external funders and will help secure the future of the Centre, which enjoys a strong reputation as a premier arts organisation and which contributes strongly to the local economy in the area.” 

“BAC provides a range of benefits to local residents, workers and students, and attracts visitors to the Borough, contributing to the profile of Wandsworth as an attractive place in which to live and work.” 

Comments by the Borough Valuer and Estates Surveyor:

“BAC could reasonably be required to pay a contribution towards rent and/or cost of repairs and furthermore to do so at a level which increases over time (as BAC secures alternative sources of funding and moves to financial self-sufficiency).  It is the amount of any payment by BAC (rather than whether it be expressed as rent or a contribution to repairs) that will be critical for both parties to the negotiations.  Clearly, the Council should seek to maximise such payments but can only do so within limits set by BAC’s ability to pay; to do otherwise would undermine BAC’s ability to deliver a sustainable programme.”

Conclusion (Peter Brennan):

This proposal is in line with the 2003 Community Strategy’s objectives to foster attractive, creative and responsive cultural activities …” 

Result of meeting: the Council approved “the grant of a lease of the Old Town Hall … for a term of 20 years to Battersea Arts Centre (BAC) to allow further investment in the Council-owned building, subject to the Director of Leisure & Amenity Services, in consultation with the Borough Valuer and Estates Surveyor, negotiating the best contribution which can be secured from BAC without prejudicing its long-term viability.”

January-March 2006

Negotiations on the lease open, BAC is asked to propose an affordable rental contribution.  BAC makes argument that it cannot afford rental on the building then proposes a low rental contribution.

BAC receives verbal indications from a Council member, and two Council officers that it is likely a three-year Service Level Agreement funding contract can be negotiated between BAC and Wandsworth Council to increase BAC’s stability. 

May 2006

BAC writes to Wandsworth Council on 15 May offering a rental contribution rising to £10,000 a year.  No reply (until January 2007)

September 2006


Wandsworth writes to BAC offering an interim six month lease on current terms due to delay in lease negotiations 

BAC begins a new three year £300,000 participatory education programme working in Wandsworth schools and with young people at risk of offending, funded using Wandsworth Council’s support via its Service Level Agreement as core match money

November 2006

BAC wins Wandsworth Business Award 2006 for Best Community Contribution by a Business

10 January 2007

BAC receives letter from Peter Brennan, Director of Leisure and Amenities, responding to BAC’s letter of 15 May 2006, informing BAC of a funding cut and demand for commercial rental on the building if the lease is to be renewed from May 2007