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2012 Olympics hitting East End artists, Minister told

PUBLISHED: 15:29 09 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:26 05 October 2010

Barbara Follett (right) with artist Alex MacGregor (centre) and Marcel Baettig at Bow Arts Trust

Barbara Follett (right) with artist Alex MacGregor (centre) and Marcel Baettig at Bow Arts Trust

BUILDING the 2012 Olympics park is having a devastating effect on artist studios in East London, a Government minister has been warned. Regeneration programmes like the Olympics can threaten the presence of artists and undermine the cultural identity of a whole district, Culture Minister Barbara Follett heard

By Mike Brooke

BUILDING the 2012 Olympics park is having a devastating effect on artist studios in East London, a Government minister has been warned.

Major regeneration programmes like the Olympics Park along the River Lea can threaten the presence of artists and undermine the cultural identity of a whole district, Culture Minister Barbara Follett heard.

She was taking time off from the hassles of Westminster to look at three artists’ studios in the East End to see the threat from Olympic plans.

FUTURE THREATENED

Her whistle-stop tour took in Mother studios in Hackney Wick, the Bow Arts Trust and Poplar’s Acme studios.

It was organised by the National Federation of Artists’ Studio Providers and she was accompanied by its chair Naomi Dines, who told her: “The problems facing artists’ studios in the Olympic area can be seen throughout Britain.

“Their future has always been threatened by regeneration and the increases in land and property values.

“But the Olympic project appears to be making things worse.

“There needs to be a concerted effort by those responsible for culture, planning, regeneration and the Olympic project itself to include artists’ studios in their vision for the Olympic host borough and beyond after 2012.”

VULNERABLE

Studios remain vulnerable, the minister heard. The recent downturn in the economy has slowed development, with groups facing an uncertain future.

Many studios are on short-term leases or with no lease at all, while developers hedge their bets in the fluctuating property market.

Using temporarily vacant property, such as empty shops, does not replace the need for long-term, secure, affordable space.

The Government is being pressed to make sure artist studios are included in the legacy’ left in East London after the 2012 Games.

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