Bystanders watched in disbelief as a large fire ripped through the Battersea Arts Centre on Friday 13 March, with more than 80 firefighters sent to tackle the flames at the south London cultural centre, which was undergoing a multi-million pound renovation at the time.
In the aftermath of these tragic events it has been revealed today that the arts centre will be handed a £1 million renovation grant to begin restoration after the devastating fire. Chancellor George Osborne said the money would help restore the centre to its “former glory”.The Treasury also confirmed a £2.5 million grant for Hendon’s RAF Museum, the money for this grant coming from fines levied against banks after the Libor rate-rigging scandal. Work to renovate Battersea’s arts centre was already under way when the blaze ravaged the venue earlier this month.
Mr Osborne said news of thefire, which saw 80 firefighters battling roaring flames that devastated the centre, had saddened people across the capital. He added: “Through Arts Council funding the Government has already contributed more than £4.5 million to support the redevelopment of this important centre.
Local Tory MP Jane Ellison concluded: “I am hugely grateful for this support which will help enormously with the restoration of a building that is an integral part of Battersea’s past and present.”
The arts centre delivers an diverse programme each year, including theatre productions, workshops, weddings and corporate events. With more than 400 artists using the venue this year, and more than 3,000 local children taking part in art schemes.
The huge blaze destroyed the majority of the centre’s Grand Hall, and offices. Battersea’s website this morning said it had also received donations worth more than £200,000. Artistic director David Jubb added: “Your interest and offers of support continue to move us beyond words. You have kept us going.”
George Osborne’s generous response to the plight of the arts centre is hopefully a reflection of the Conservative’s future policies towards the arts, in the run up to the general election.