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Arts centre at risk of closure in money row

PUBLISHED: 10:36 23 April 2015 | UPDATED: 10:48 23 April 2015

Rich Mix, Bethnal Green.

Rich Mix, Bethnal Green.

Archant

An arts centre is in danger of closing down due to an ongoing row over a money repayment.

Rich Mix, in Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, says it has been ordered to pay Tower Hamlets Council £850,000 in one lump sum, which has the potential to bankrupt the venue.

The popular centre hosts more than 650 events a year, including community projects and screening independent films often overlooked by mainstream cinemas.

More than 10,000 people have signed a petition to save the centre, which has also launched a Twitter campaign urging people to say what the space means to them with the hashtag #RichMixMatters.

Rich Mix says the council has rejected offers to repay the money over a period of time and added the only funding it has received since 2009 has been from the Arts Council.

A spokesman said: “We are particularly proud of our role in supporting emerging artists and in the last year we supported more than 140 artists and groups with rehearsal and development space to the value of £315,000.

“Of these artists, over half were from Tower Hamlets and Hackney, and a similar proportion was from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, reflecting our local area.

“The legal action being taken by Tower Hamlets against Rich Mix has the potential to bankrupt the organisation and cause us to close down and stop providing the services and facilities we offer.”

The statement said closure would have a “devastating impact” on artistic and community life.

A council spokesman said: “It would be inappropriate for the council to comment on either ongoing litigation or associated settlement discussions.

“The council’s grounds for pursuing repayment of this outstanding loan debt will be a matter for the courts to determine should the Mayor decide to pursue it.

“The Rich Mix made a legal counter claim for additional funding for £1.5m when the council began its action to secure the outstanding debt owed by Rich Mix. This claim failed. The authority remains open to discussion regarding future funding arrangements and remains in constructive dialogue with Rich Mix management.”

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