Stratford Circus Arts Centre Threatened With Closure

• Mayor of Newham announces plans for a youth zone to take over the entire building

• Last year Stratford Circus generated almost £1.6m. All of this was reinvested into cultural programming and maintaining operation of the centre – which engages with approximately 10,000 young people annually. Closure would mean the loss of this investment every year

• The Council has only allocated £1.2m funding to cover four Youth Zones across the borough ‘over the next few years’. Much less than the £1.6m annual budget of Stratford Circus

• Stratford Circus is launching a campaign: #OurStratfordCircus to persuade Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz to secure its long-term future

The Mayor of Newham has announced plans to close Stratford Circus Arts Centre, and to use the building for a new Youth Zone, which it hopes will have a focus on cultural activities.

The closure will mean the loss of a successful and financially sound cultural and community organisation that has operated the building for nearly a decade and with a sustainable business model.

Last year Stratford Circus generated £1.58m through a variety of sources, including box office, venue hires, its café, Arts Council funding, and other fundraised income. This income is reinvested to deliver its wide-ranging programme, which has a major focus on youth engagement but also reaches across the generations with provision for families, schools and for older people.

The Mayor wishes to replace the charity that has operated Stratford Circus with her own Youth Zone, that will run a creative programme for young people. She has yet to provide any detail on how she will address the loss of nearly £1.6million in annual income from the closure of the current charity.

Stratford Circus engaged in early discussions with London Borough of Newham focused on accommodating a new Youth Zone in the venue. Stratford Circus already works with around 10,000 young people annually through creative learning programmes and is keen to expand its youth provision and offer accessible creative opportunities to all young people in the Borough.

Discussions about co-location were shut down by the Council last autumn. All efforts to restart discussions were ignored. On Tuesday 3 March the Mayor announced, at a Cabinet meeting, that the charity operating the Centre would be served notice to quit the building. Stratford Circus stills believes that the Mayor could best achieve her ambitions for youth services in the borough, and in a way that is financially sustainable, by working with the charity.

Tania Wilmer, CEO of Stratford Circus, said:

“We’re dismayed at the decision to close Stratford Circus, which is a nationally recognised cultural organisation with deep roots in the community. Crucially, it successfully generates the money needed to provide an ongoing cultural programme that truly serves the people of Newham. Delivering high quality arts provision is not cheap. Through the dedication of our staff we have been able to create a year-round programme that engages people at all stages of life. We are particularly proud of our youth work and had hoped to continue our dialogue with the Council on expanding this. It provides something irreplaceable and does so sustainably, and we invite the people of Newham to share what Stratford Circus means to them.”

Stratford Circus is launching a campaign: #OurStratfordCircus to persuade Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz to secure its long-term future.

How can the public get involved?

  • Sign and share the petition to tell the Mayor what Stratford Circus means to you and ask her to reopen discussions with Stratford Circus to find a way to secure their future. Tag @rokhsanafiaz & @NewhamLondon and tell them what you think
  • Newham residents can also write to their local councillor using this letter and to the Mayor directly using this letter, and tell them why Stratford Circus is important to them. You can find out who your local councillor is and how to contact them using this link
  • Stratford Circus would like everyone who has been part of Stratford Circus’s life over the past decade to take to social media and tell @rokhsanafiaz & @NewhamLondon why Stratford Circus is important to you. Post to social media using the hashtag #OurStratfordCircus and share your stories - be as creative as you like!