Since 2006 the trustees have allowed the charity’s members of association body to wither. Therefore management of this charity is centralised around the Chair and the Council of Management (trustees). The trustees’ answers on the Africa Centre website are vague, there is no evidenced detail and their response is especially disappointing in the context of their resisting open and transparent dialogue which is essentially all that the Save the Africa Campaign have been asking.
- since at least 2006 the trustees have invested next to zero time or resources on programming, the core charitable object ; all events have been the product of a outstandingly committed and zealous part-time employee of the Business of Culture, the interim managers of the Africa Centre, with the help of equally dedicated volunteers
- The trustees rarely, if ever, attend these events
- Other groups have run programmes on no budget
- Many other institutions manage with, and even exploit, Grade 2 or other listed building status – why can the trustees not seek to do so via more cost effective means rather than as part of a major redevelopment
- At the same meeting where the decision to sell the building was formally taken, the Treasurer confirmed to those present that the Centre’s finances are stable enough to bring the charity circa 2 years to continue building a plan that might enable the charity to stay at 38 King Street and prosper there.
- Why then the rush to sell?
- And why negotiate in secret and solely with the same property developer buying up most of the area and the same property developer behind the 2006 attempt to sell
- Fundraising plans have been developed but poorly executed by the Council: in 2008 a report was commissioned by the trustees from the Philanthropy Company : it is debatable as to whether all trustees have sought to execute the specific actions proposed.
- Prospective donors (e.g. Mo Ibrahim Foundation) have, since summer 2009 at least, explicitly told the Council to focus on programming and then funds would follow. The trustees have chosen not to pursue these
- The trustees’ claimed “reluctance” in their decision to sell suggests a sense of collective exhaustion. If so, do they have the spirit to sustain the organisation irrespective of the direction of travel? Allocating millions of pounds requires vision, strategy and expert execution.
- The trustees have yet to clarify what they mean by “Endowment Fund”. There are many types and models. Has consensus been achieved on what specific focus the proposed Endowment Fund would have? If not, then they should not liquidize the asset until such time as they have developed any such plan. The cash capital gained from sale is finite, not a bottomless pit. Prioritisation and focus is vital in leveraging and allocating this capital.
- Partnerships: what “partnerships” have the trustees formed to date? Tenants? Yes. Partnerships that nurture the charitable objects, notably the programming? No. In fact they have arguably alienated several such potential partners through sheer inertia of responsiveness to those prospective partners
- London 2012 is referenced as an opportunity? The trustees missed the South African World Cup and even Africa Day just passed with no involvement of the institution in related activity. The trustees have missed more or less every African milestone in recent years (website events posted on the homepage are from a year ago. There is no illustration of topical matters relating to the Diaspora orAfrica).
- Kaye Whiteman, when he featured on BBC World Service / Focus on Africa a couple of weeks ago rationalised the decision to sell the on the purchaser’s strategy (i.e. CapCo want Armani in King Street not the Africa Centre). STAC questions this way of showing responsibility to the trust. We do not believe that Capco’s strategy, especially when the central London location of 38 King Street in the heart of London’s entertainment and leisure district holds such perfect synergy with the charitable objects of the Africa Centre (this is where people come for the Arts and cultural entertainment!) should inform the trustee’s decision to sell this Charity’s sole asset.
- Zero consultation with the community does not inspire confidence in the trustees’ representation of that community
The Save The Africa Centre Campaign team