Hounslow Labour Group release statement on the closure of Watermans Art Centre

By Anna Wiseman

9th Apr 2024 | Local News

Watermans Art Centre (credit: Cesar Medina)
Watermans Art Centre (credit: Cesar Medina)

Hounslow Labour Group has released the following statement about the closure of Watermans Art Centre.

The arts centre will close on Thursday (11 April) after nearly 40 years of delivering arts to the community.

Cllr Shivraj Grewal, Labour Group Spokesperson for Communities, Equalities and Culture, said:

We are saddened that the Hounslow Arts Trust has taken the difficult decision to close the Watermans Arts Centre in Brentford from mid-April. There has been a lot of discussion surrounding the closure of the Watermans Arts Centre, and we would like to provide some much needed clarity on the Council's position. Therefore we have provided responses to the below common questions that have been rightly asked by the public.

Hounslow Council's Labour administration is committed to supporting a rich cultural offer for everyone across the borough, recognising the many benefits culture provides for our diverse communities.

Why is the Watermans Arts Centre Closing?

Due to the volatile economic climate, it has been increasingly difficult for many arts and culture organisations around the country to operate. This is being compounded by a cut to arts funding nationally by the Conservative Government. This is true of the Hounslow Arts Trust (which manages the Watermans Arts Centre). There has been significant financial pressures due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Cost of Living Crisis and increasing utility costs which has had an impact on both box office sales and the Centre's running costs. If the Hounslow Arts Trust was to continue as they were, they have said they would soon become insolvent and stop operating completely. This would have been a huge loss to the borough. Therefore the trustees have taken the difficult decision to close the Watermans Centre in mid-April.

The Hounslow Arts Trust will continue to deliver its outdoor events at Bell Square, its Creative People and Places activities, and its other community based programmes that provide exciting cultural experiences for Hounslow residents each year.

What is Hounslow Council's role in the Watermans Arts Centre?

Hounslow Council does not operate Watermans. It is managed by an independent charity, The Hounslow Arts Trust, which has a Board of Trustees. The Council owns the building and the land, and it has one trustee on this Board – the Hounslow Arts Trust works with the Council to deliver its various arts and cultural events throughout the borough via a regular Council grant.

Please contact the Hounslow Arts Trust directly regarding questions about its management of the Watermans Arts Centre.

Why can't Hounslow Council step in and fund the Watermans Arts Centre?

Keeping the Watermans Centre open would have meant a huge injection of new funding, and the Trust felt that running the building would have been too expensive and not sustainable, therefore this would have negatively impacted on its provision of community and arts events across the borough, as well as their ability to attract external grants.

The Council and the Arts Council England are committed to supporting the Hounslow Arts Trust in providing their valuable arts and cultural engagement work in the community.

What is Hounslow Council doing for Hounslow residents, and especially those in Brentford, who fear the loss of the Watermans Arts Centre?

Hounslow Council's Labour administration are committed to delivering a new arts centre on the Police Station site in Brentford and we are working closely with all our local partners, including the Hounslow Arts Trust, to achieve this. The work on this important development is ongoing and continues to be a top priority.

The Council's Labour administration also remain committed that there will be no development at the current Watermans building until the new arts centre is delivered.

What will happen to the restaurant and their staff at the Watermans Arts Centre?

The Hounslow Arts Trust sub-lease space in the Watermans Centre to the restaurant providers, therefore the future of the restaurant is subject to discussions between the Trust and the restaurant providers.

What will happen to the equipment within the Watermans Arts Centre?

The theatre equipment is owned by the Trust, and they will have to find a way of storing it ready for the new proposed Arts Centre in Brentford.

Can the Watermans Arts Centre be used after the Hounslow Arts Trust have vacated the building?

Hounslow Council's Labour administration would like to see this building continue to be used, and are happy to meet with the community and voluntary sector to explore how best we can use this site. Any such conversations must be on the basis of potential operator(s) developing fully costed proposals that would enable the building to be brought back into use without the need for subsidy.

Any potential proposals should be directed to Cllr Shivraj Grewal ([email protected]) and Cllr Tom Bruce ([email protected]) in the first instance.


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