We are excited to provide the link to our new Building Project blog.
We are using this to regularly update pictures and information form the ongoing works, throughout 2015 and into the start of 2016.
Our building contractors are just finishing the Lower Hall phase of works, and staff have started to move back to the rear of the Old Town Hall, occupying the temporary office set-up for the rest of this year. This decanting from the centre of the building means that the builders have already started the huge task of demolition and reconfiguration, making changes for the new lift to all floors and the outside performance space.
Head on over to the Battersea Arts Centre Building Project blog and see what's going on, and check out the other activities we're talking about there too.
A message from David Jubb, Artistic Director of Battersea Arts Centre
Dear friends of Battersea Arts Centre,
I am delighted to share the fantastic news that Battersea Arts Centre’s first stage application for £4,690,000 from Arts Council England’s capital investment programme, for the completion of our redevelopment and restoration of Battersea’s Grade-II* listed former town hall, has been successful. With this funding in place we now have less than 10% of the project cost left to raise to complete our £13.3 million capital campaign.
Just as the Town Hall was originally built with the help of its community through small subscriptions, we would love your support today to help us raise the final funds.
We have today launched a new crowd funding campaign Bee Generous to help raise the remaining funds; from our audiences, visitors, artists, staff and building users. What better mascot for the campaign than the bee: bees dot the mosaics in our building’s foyer and serve as a reminder of when Lavender Hill, at top of which the Town Hall stands, was used to commercially grow lavender. They are great symbol of collective endeavour; and, excitingly, we will be bringing bees back to Battersea on completion of the capital project, by installing beehives on our roof.
Through the campaign you can support our building ambitions through a donation of £1 to £100 and be rewarded with some great gifts, from jars of local London honey to a day out at a beehive. To find out more and give today click here.
If you would like to give regularly please consider becoming a member from £24 per year, or joining our Great Hundred Club, from as little as £67 per month. If you would like to discuss making a gift or supporting us in some other way our development team would love to hear from you: [email protected] or 020 7326 8241.
Our building will be open throughout the redevelopment and we have planned a really incredible programme of activity, from a season of political theatre and events through to A Nation’s Stage, where we will host some of the most exciting regional theatres and companies. And of course we will continue to host artists-in-residence to develop work for our new and refreshed spaces, ahead of the building fully reopening in Spring 2016.
All the best,
We would like to thank the following individuals and organisations who, alongside Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, have generously supported our redevelopment:
Alison & Chris Cabot
We would also like to thank Bloomberg and Paul Hamlyn Foundation, who played a crucial role in the early stages of the project by funding our building-wide Playgrounding productions.
The Theatre Jukebox is a platform for telling stories.
It particularly challenges the way we interact with archives and is a new way to attach digital stories and a more intimate value to the physical collections from our archive.
It is installed in the Waiting Room, the permanent space that houses temporary exhibitions curated from our archive collections, providing an intimate experience through the artistic concept of linking the stories of the old Battersea Town Hall and Battersea Arts Centre together.
You are invited to choose from a selection of 6 cards. Each one plays a short, self-contained snapshot from our rich history, but if you continue, connections between the cards build a bigger picture.
The audio stories are brought to life through projections mapped to the images. The resulting experience is fragmented, non-linear and pieced together by you. It is like snippets of memory or flicking through a photo album, each picture sparking images, associations, snatches of conversations and ideas.
The Theatre Jukebox has been created by Stand + Stare Collective, supported by Heritage Lottery Fund, Wandsworth Borough Council, and the Arts Council England, in partnership with Wandsworth Heritage Service.
As much as we often talk about sustainability and greening on our main blog, sometimes it's literal. In a post last year we talked about how we'd revamped the courtyard at the centre of the building, re-using the old BAC sign cubes and planting a range of trees, flowers and shrubs.
As the weather starts to perk up, it's nice to see that our faith is being rewarded. A couple of months ago we enjoyed tulips and daffs, and now the pear tree (bargain at £12) and clematis' (50p each!) have been flowering too.
With early signs from the seedlings for mixed bee-friendly flora coming up as well, it looks like we might have a rather cosy and colourful wee nook in which to eat lunch during the day and relax with a drink in the evenings.
But we're keeping the large red table-umbrellas handy just in case - it's still England, after all.
If you're in the building, the courtyard is open for public use, and you're very welcome to bring your food and drink from the Scratch Bar out and enjoy it in a little bit of space away from the main road.
If you're of the green-fingered persuasion and would like to volunteer any help in keeping our courtyard garden growing, we'd love to hear from you. You can contact Sam, our Volunteer Coordinator, at [email protected].
Read more about volunteering at Battersea Arts Centre here.
As an organisation dedicated to inventing the future of theatre, it's exciting to use our ongoing Capital Project and goal to be more environmentally sustainable to try out new technology...
I've been following Cubesensors since they first exhibited their ideas at the Launch Festival 2013 in San Francisco and their incredibly smart product caught my eye.
Simply place CubeSensors throughout your home or office, one in each room, and get a read on various factors that affect your health and well-being. Specifically, CubeSensors are equipped with seven different sensors measuring air quality, temperature, humidity, noise, light, weather pressure, and accelerometer.
The small cubes connect wirelessly to a base station, providing live information on this range of factors affecting our environment.
For us, this seems to be a way to scratch the idea of a "Building Forecast Tool": something we can use to actively monitor our building, and by building up data over time, be able to more accurately predict the likely temperature and conditions of our performance spaces, and therefore to inform audiences in advance of a show how they might best dress for their comfort.
As an organisation, of course we all like to be comfortable where we work and play, but recognise the limitations of maintaining this across such a large (and leaky!) Victorian building. We will be adding insulation and improved heating over the next 18 months, but have made the decision not to rely on a Building Management System (BMS) - essentially, a controlled air conditioning and heating building-wide system. Not only is it often the experience of orgnisations that it takes time to learn how most efficiently to operate a BMS, but the amount of additional ducting would be hard to hide and not detract from our beautiful heritage spaces.
We have chosen to continue as we currently operate, and to focus on heating or cooling individual spaces as naturally as possible, focussing our energies on those that are occupied. This will require a large amount of coordination across operational staff and volunteers, and we hope that in developing our Building Forecast Tool, we will learn the effects on our internal environment from the weather outside and our activities within, allowing us to proactively warm or ventilate spaces. At the same time, as we might do at home, we may suggest audiences in colder weather should remember to dress warmer, and during a hot spell, bring a hand-fan or lighter clothing.
The first set of 6 Cubesensors will arrive with us during the next month, and it should be interesting working out how we can effectively use the data they provide to help us reach this goal.
Watch this blog, where I'll be keeping you up to date on our progress, or join the discussion on Twitter using the hashtags #greenarts and #LTCgreen.
One of the most interesting ongoing projects within our Heritage activities is the Online Digital Archive, which is now live and open to all.
BAC’s digital archive is a freely accessible website which combines materials from our building’s time as Battersea Town Hall and Battersea Arts Centre. Among other things, our archive includes original architectural plans, programmes from the UK’s first amateur boxing club, and documentation from key performances including Jerry Springer the Opera and Punchdrunk’s Masque of the Red Death.
The archive is a collaboration between Wandsworth Heritage Service (who hold the Town Hall collection from 1892 to 1974) and BAC (who hold the theatre archive from 1974 to present) and by unifying these collections we want to create a picture of our building’s history over the last 120 years.
We need your help!
We’ve already uploaded more than 10,000 images and documents to this website and hope that, by breaking these stories out of their boxes, many more people will engage with our history. This archive is an ongoing project; we are still cataloguing and revealing more stories from our collections. You may find omissions and mistakes in our descriptions but we hope that you’ll help us by commenting and adding what you know.
This archive has been created with the help and the stories of many artists, theatre-goers, volunteers, and Battersea residents. By contributing your story, comment or photograph, you can help us too.
Please contact [email protected] for more information.
You can visit Battersea Town Hall’s collection at Wandsworth Heritage Service.
In a previous blog post, we were very proud to annouce that we had achieved 3 Stars in Industry Green certification. We were one of only seven organisations across the country to do so, and two of them are part of the London Theatre Consortium (ourselves and the Lyric Hammersmith).
The green champions from the thirteen producing theatres who make up the LTC get together regularly to share ideas, encourage each other, brainstorm and hear from creative leaders in sustainability, facilitated by Julie's Bicycle. Once a year, we also take time to celebrate some of the fantastic achievements made in reducing our carbon footprint, and to award those who have made the most improvements across the board, the biggest reductions in emissions, and the greenest venue.
Across the LTC, savings on absolute energy reduction alone were 400 tonnes of CO2e and savings of £75,000. Individual theatres' achievements include low energy lighting, including environmental policies into contracts, local supplier and stakeholder engagement, researching and monitoring the impacts of staging materials, capital development to buildings to improve efficiency through heating and insulation, moving to a 100% wind power energy tariff and reductions of up to 47% in relative energy emissions over a year.
There are some incredible successes and stories, and many of the theatres share these on their websites - we'd encourage you to read about them (you can find links to all of the organisations through the LTC website linked above). Ultimately, it's about being the change we want to see, and taking the action we can. Jointly, we can make an effect in London, and share what we've learned within the arts sector, and the wider world.
In 2012, BAC was pleased to receive the Most Improved Venue award. In 2013, the three awards were:
We're not resting on our laurels, however. BAC started 2013 with a list of 100 actions we could take, and a large number of these have been done. We'll report on these and their success in a dedicated December blog post, but there are plenty of activities still to carry out, and more creative thinking to apply.
Thanks must go to all the staff and volunteers at BAC for their efforts in making us the Green Venue of the Year, and for the huge support from Julie's Bicycle and the London Theatre Consortium.
A new system makes everyone aware of the cost of printing.
Like any business, we review the contracts we have with our suppliers to ensure the best value for money. For Battersea Arts Centre, it's also important that our suppliers become partners with us in our mission and vision. As part of that, we hope they will support our drive to become more environmentally sustainable.
Photocopiers may not be the most exciting item on many folks' agenda, but there's no denying that they use a lot of paper, hum away in corners by themselves, and occasionally, when you're already late for a meeting, eat the one vital printout you were trying to produce.
We've always been keen to cut down our printing costs, and because our staff offices are spread across the length and breadth of the building, to print on a particular size or in colour, there's usually been a walk involved to collect the printing from the relevant room. Now, that's all changed, thanks to a rather nifty tool called PaperCut.
Having sent any number of items to print, each of us now enters our login on the printer closest to us and collects everything at once - no more piles of orphaned printouts! And every time we select "print", we see what the cost is - a useful reminder of whether this is something we really need or not.
Finally, to put it all in perspective, we each have an on-screen widget, listing the total amount of printing, what percentage of a tree we're personally responsible for consuming, and what that means in carbon dioxide emissions, or lit hours of a standard 60W light bulb.
It also means we can include really accurate reports about the impact of our printing and copying use to our annual reports to the Arts Council England and for Industry Green certification (which you can read more about on our Sustainability page). The more we know about what our actions cost, the easier it becomes to manage them, and reduce our negative impacts. Ultimately that means a greener theatre, lower costs, and more focus on great art.
An installation in the Foyer celebrates Battersea events from 1893 to 2013...
On the main staircase in our Foyer, you'll find an installation by Thea Jones highlighting the radical artistic and political heritage of Battersea's Old Town Hall.
Look inside the red books, and discover more about the people who have passed through our doors, and enjoy a drink or meal whilst looking through windows into our past.
The Battersea motto of Not For Me, Not For You, But For Us is still true today, and this runs through our current Cook Up season.
This year, we are celebrating the 120th anniversary of our Victorian Town Hall...
From its early days as Battersea Town Hall to its current use as Battersea Arts Centre, our building has always hosted radical thinkers and their ideas.
Over the last 120 years, the building has witnessed feminist speeches, socialist uprisings, tea dances, air raids, and boxing matches. John Archer, the first black mayor of a London borough, was based here. Battersea MP John Burns, the first working class member of the Cabinet and proud "son of a washerwoman", gave many speeches here, as did Suffragettes Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst.
For over 30 years, the building has been home to Battersea Arts Centre. BAC pioneers new practice in contemporary theatre with the development of Scratch in 2000, the creation of Punchdrunk's Masque of the Red Death in 2007, and the support of UK theatre artists such as Kneehigh, Nic Green and Kate Tempest.
But we are also interested in the many thousands of people who have passed through the building, such as the people who worked at the Town Hall, or audiences who have seen shows here.
In the Waiting Room off the Main Foyer you'll find a collection showing a snapshot of our history and the people who have passed through our doors.
Open Monday to Saturday 10am until 11pm, alongside our Scratch Bar, serving fresh local food and drinks, come and explore the exhibition before or after a show, or relax in our welcoming spaces.
This display has been made possible through the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and Wandsworth Borough Council, and thanks are also due to Wandsworth Heritage Services.
Battersea Arts Centre has been awarded 3 stars Industry Green certification by Julie's Bicycle - the highest level achievable.
Over the last three years, BAC has been continually working to reduce our carbon footprint and improve our environmental impacts, and we have been assessed in this by an independent organisation, Julie's Bicycle, using their Industry Green (IG) certification scheme. The staff and many building users have worked incredibly hard to make this possible, for which they should be rightly proud.
In reaching the 3 Star rating we've been working towards since 2010, this recognises our Commitment, Understanding, Improvement and Communication in response to issues of climate change and environmental sustainability. Other creative industry IG participants include Glastonbury Festival, Wembley Stadium, the O2 Brixton and the London Theatre Consortium, of which we are a member.
Among the actions we've taken to reach this stage are:
You can read the full report from Julie's Bicycle here.
One of the clearest indications of the impact our actions have had is that in 2010/11, to mitigate our carbon footprint, it would have cost £63,600. To do the same in 2012/13 would have cost £26,300 - only 42% of the original figure.
There's always much more to do, and we're keen to retain this rating now that we've achieved it. To do that, we need to work closer with our staff, artists, hirers, visitors, audiences, suppliers, contractors and community, and we'll be sharing that journey here as time goes on.
Industry Green is compatible with, and complimentary to other environmental certification schemes including BS8901, ISO20121, ISO14001 and the Carbon Trust Standard.
The Courtyard recently got a massive dose of TLC when volunteers from Deloitte joined us for a day to help redecorate and improve some parts of the building.
Alongside teams helping to repaint areas in the artist accomodation and set up spaces for our current London Stories production, a group braved the inclement weather and brought a bit of calm back to our Courtyard.
Designed as the 'lungs' of the building by Edward William Mountford, a century of changes has taken its toll on the central oasis of the old Town Hall, with a kitchen and lift shaft impinging into a relatively small space. .
Having suspended a large blue tarpaulin above our heads, the navy-shirted team, plus our Facilities Coordinator Tim Hopkins and Capital Administrator Tref Davies, got stuck into removing rubbish, re-arranging the outdoor furniture, and potting up the new plants, bought with a kind donation from Deloitte.
Plants now include a pear tree, cabbages, broccoli, peppers, a small rose bush, lavender, honeysuckle and much more.
You may recognise our recently removed famous Red Cubes, repurposed from their old life as our front sign into brilliant raised beds.
There's a small amount left to do (500 litres of compost proved about half as much as we needed!) but a new lease of life, and a more open space, has been created, which we hope you'll be able to enjoy more fully in clement weather!
Huge thanks to our volunteers!
The cafe bar was renamed the Scratch Bar, embodying the spirit and ethos of what Battersea Arts Centre is all about. From the new zinc-topped bar to the bespoke hanging LED lighting, staff, artists and visitors have been involved in the design and discussions of what was needed.
In one of the most public spaces, the Scratch Bar is a shining example of playgrounding, with lower-cost interventions and trials having been carried out over a two year period, testing ideas and layouts until the right solution was reached.
With low energy and ultra-low energy LED lighting across the space (some bulbs rate as low as 1.4 watts), it is still flexible enough to host BAC Homegrown and performance events, parties and communal meals.
It has enabled us to transform our catering and bar offer, producing fantastic freshly cooked food both in lunchtimes and for evening performance audiences. The space is used all day by local visitors and staff alike, for meetings or chatting over a coffee, and with new heating under the raised seating area, it's cosy for the winter months ahead.
A major change to Battersea Arts Centre was in re-branding, and returning to our full name, rather than the acronym. This meant that the red cubes which have served so well since the 1990's finally came down from the front of the building and were replaced by a new sign, lit by low-voltage bulbs, in the shape and colours of the new logo.
The red cubes are still in the building, however, as a trip to the Courtyard will demonstrate, where you'll find them repurposed as planters for a range of flowers, herbs and trees.
The Waiting Room finally has the makeover it's been waiting for. As comfortable furniture has been added, and a thick velvet curtain to draw across the arched entry during cold nights to make a snug, a welcoming hearth awaits visitors.
With plenty of power and data sockets, this is now a great room to relax or work in, or for informal presentations and talks.
The Battersea Arts Centre Archive now has a permanent display home here as well, alongside models of the building as it will appear after the Capital Project is completed.
The Foyer has been transformed into a more open space. Previously it felt much like a corridor between the well-used spaces on the ground floor. With a new arched opening into the cafe, allowing bar service directly into the Foyer, and a wide arch into the Waiting Room, more light and life has started to spill out across the public spaces of the building.
Entering through the new glass draught lobby, visitors can immediately see through to the redesigned cafe bar, and the new entrance off Town Hall Road. From seating for meeting and eating across the Foyer and Grand Staircase, they can also sink into more comfortable armchairs and sofas in the Waiting Room.
We're planning to use the space more regularly, with installations and shows spilling out from our performance spaces during seasons.
Phase 1 Works GALLERY
Phase 1 of the works is nearly complete! Watch this space for images of the final finish.
Here is a sense of what our visitors will see upon entering the café from the new doors! What you can't see here is that just out of frame to the right is a small sink/taps on the bar top, solving that age-old problem of having to run in and out of the kitchen for water all the time!
Here’s a picture of the new hole! This is where the dumb waiter will go, connecting the new Council Chamber kitchen (in the old Post Room) to the Council Chamber Dressing Room. What you’re seeing here is the view up from the old Post Room into the Town Clerk’s Office, and then a further hole which will be the hatch into the CC Dressing Room. Hot food can be delivered straight upstairs without all the plating and carrying the amazing café staff have had to do for all these years!
Today’s image is the café window nearly out, ready for the doorframe to be fitted!
Seriously, the toilets are going to look fantastic.
Here’s a view through the sneaky hole in the Odyssey hoarding to see where the archway from the foyer to the café is completely open now. It’s taken a long time to remove all the masonry, as they’ve been supporting the wall on enormous metal beams. But behold – soon we will be looking through the foyer into the bar!
Here’s today’s image! It’s the Foyer awaiting the audience’s arrival last night, looking wonderful (even with the broom still out as evidence of hard work carried out by so many).
Phase 1 Begins
Calum McDougal of Ashe Construction who is site manager for the first phase of the works tells us what is happening.