Africa Centre’s £1.6m boost

The Africa Centre’s transplant from Covent Garden to Southwark has received a major boost with a £1.6m grant from the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund, while the Black Cultural Archive has been saved from possible closure by a government grant of £200,000.

The Africa Centre’s cash boost will allow the centre to transform its four storey office block into a cafe, bars, event spaces and a learning and research centre. It will compliment the two railway arches opposite the centre is using for offices, its radio station Colourful Radio, an entrepreneurs’ hub and performance space. 

“This comes at a very pivotal time in The Africa Centre’s development” said its director, Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp. “Our new home in Southwark is located in the third largest inner-London borough, which is also home to the largest black population in London. It is vital for the BME community to have access to places that create a sense of belonging and the revitalised Africa Centre will represent just that for many. Our dream for the future of The Africa Centre is now one big step closer to reality.”

Meanwhile, the troubled Black Cultural Archive opposite Lambeth Town Hall has been given a £200,000 stop-gap grant by the government to stave off closure while a subsidy plan is negotiated for it. 

The decision by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) follows a campaign led by local MPs Helen Hayes and Chuka Umunna, and a cross-party letter signed by 100 MPs urging the government to make it a national institution with appropriate funding.

The archive is the only British heritage centre devoted to the history of black Britons, and has been the main source of legal advice and comfort since the Windrush, scandal broke in April. It opened in a refurbished Victorian mansion on Windrush Square in 2014, but earlier this year a £4m Heritage Lottery Fund grant was spent and a fundraising campaign to replace it failed. His week the archive instituted a £3 admission charge for temporary exhibitions.

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