The Save the Africa Centre campaign team encourage all supporters of the Africa Centre to attend as many of the Africa Centre’s own programming during the month of May 2011. We believe that it is the programming that is central to the sustainable future of this charitable trust and the steadily growing programming is, primarily, the work of volunteers with an ethos supportive of the STAC campaign.
We urge you to attend these meetings, perhaps in particular the upcoming quiz night which is likely to be used as a platform by trustees’ to lobby attendees as to the virtues of the sale option. We call on you to attend this and the other events to show your support for the Africa Centre whilst, in doing so, asking that you be prepared to ask the simple questions such as:
1) Why do the current trustees resist the Save the Africa Centre campaign’s call for a public meeting?
2) Why have the current trustees not informed the Members of the Africa Centre Association of these plans to sell?
3) How do the current trustees plan to leverage or allocate the millions of pounds from the sale – i.e. what is their plan for the Africa Centre’s sustainable future?
We believe that the growing programming activity and the strong interest in these events, noting attendance levels of recent panel discussions, is evidence of the very potential of 38 King Street which we believe has, as yet, not been adequately explored by the current trustees. The programming you see at the Africa Centre for May 2011 is just the beginning.
The Save the Africa Centre campaign team believe the competitive benchmark against which we should be measured is seen in the programming offered by such groups as: the Museum for African Art in New York City; London’s Southbank Centre, INIVA, the Barbican, and other notable centres of excellence for the expression of African art and culture such as South Africa’s Africa Centre in Cape Town.
However, noting the concerns raised with regards the low levels of engagement of London’s Africa Centre’s trustees to date on programming as well as the dearth of arts and cultural industry skills and experience on this trust’s Council of Management, the Save the Africa Centre campaign team believes that a high quality, mixed programming will likely not be attained with the current trustees in place and the existing governance framework.
It is notable that Save the Africa Centre campaign supporter Hadeel Ibrahim, Executive Director of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, met with trustees as far back as 2009 to urge the current trustees to understand that the programming element was critical to the sustainability of the Africa Centre and that that was where a significant proportion of trustees’ time and effort should be directed. It has taken the work of unpaid volunteers to more recently respond to this call to action, as trustees’ input to the programming has been generally acknowledged as being weak for some time now.
It is believed that Trustees have recently been actively considering partnering with the Royal Commonwealth Society as one potential strategy for continuing the Africa Centre operation into the foreseeable future. The vestiges of colonialism in the legacy of the Royal Commonwealth Society lead the Save the Africa Centre campaign team to be highly concerned about co-habiting with RCS. Furthermore, the central London location of the Africa Centre, right at the heart of this globally renowned city’s entertainment district of Soho, is critical to the future revenue generation potential of the events that the Africa Centre would aspire to host. It is also key to ensuring the Africa Centre is able to promote and stimulate wider learning about Africa with the broader global communities that frequent the Covent Garden area of London which receives a high density of tourists from both within the UK, Europe and from across the world. Furthermore, young members of the African Diaspora are far more likely to fraternise in this area of London than the Whitehall area where the Royal Commonwealth Society is based, an area better known for being the home of governmental bodies and bureaucracy. The Save the Africa Centre campaign team believes that the Africa Centre’s programming would be better served by being centred at 38 King Street, whereas the current trustees have publicly admitted that they are unable to deliver the potential of this trust at this site, its home for nearly 50 years, and find it acceptable to sell a 125 year leasehold interest in the building to a property developer.
Separately, the Save the Africa Centre campaign team also informs you that the Africa Centre currently has a new website almost ready and due to come on stream during May 2011. From an Africa Centre perspective, this has been inspired by the work of trustee Boko Inyundo and several unpaid volunteers collaborating closely with a creative design third party named Module Media.
From: the Save the Africa Centre campaign team