Campaign launched to save North London theatre group from eviction after hit with 42 percent rent rise

Co-founder of Black Arts Production Theatre (BAP Theatre) Andrew Reid says the group is facing eviction on Friday (.)
Co-founder of Black Arts Production Theatre (BAP Theatre) Andrew Reid says the group is facing eviction on Friday (.)

A north London theatre group has condemned an arts centre for attempting to evict it due to an inability to pay a 42 per cent rent increase.

Andrew Reid, co-founder of Black Arts Production Theatre (BAP Theatre), said the rental price for studio space at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre (BGAC) in Tottenham has surged from £420 to £600 a month.

Unable to afford this increase, he says the group is facing eviction on Friday and has launched a petition to gather support.

BGAC said the rent remains below market value and had not been raised for seven years.

BAP Theatre, founded in 1992, was established in response to what it described as a lack of opportunities for black and ethnic minorities in TV and theatre.

Reid highlighted the group’s long-standing relationship with the arts centre, saying: “The ethos of the centre is it’s meant to be for local people and employ local people.”

He told the BBC: “The centre is meant to be reducing crime rates and diverting people away from crime, and creating artists. One month’s notice, I don’t think, is adequate to ask for an extra £180.”

The group has enlisted the help of lawyer Pauline Campbell, known for her work on the Justice4Windrush campaign.

Ms Campbell said BAP had offered to pay £450 a month and made this payment in April, but cannot afford more.

Mr Reid said BGAC had already lost two businesses due to rent increases.

“They received Arts Council funding to give to outside organisations to come do things in the theatres, but with local people nothing is happening,” he said.

Azieb Pool, BGAC artistic director and chief executive, said the centre appreciated "how tough things are for black arts organisations in the current climate".

She said that BGAC had offered reduced rates for other centre spaces and "have not increased our rents for over seven years".

"We are also severely affected by the changing arts sector and reluctantly have to raise the rents to ensure our own financial viability," she added.

“Market rates for studio spaces of similar sizes in the area are over £800, and with this in mind our rent... still represents a considerably discounted rate.”

BGAC has been contacted for comment.