Arts Centre given notice to quit by Council

Educational resource in Gunnersbury Park may have to close

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Small Mansion Arts Centre

The Small Mansion Arts Centre, situated in Gunnersbury Park has been given notice to quit the premises.  The decision, taken by Gunnersbury Park's joint management committee at Ealing and Hounslow Councils, has come as a huge shock to founder Paul Butler whose organisation has been in residence there for over 20 years. 

The Small Mansion Arts Centre is a registered charity and a non-profit making company whose primary purpose is to provide arts education and exhibition facilities for the communities of Ealing and Hounslow.  Founded in 1983, the centre is home to artist's studio space, exhibitions and educational programmes which draw in hundreds of people of the course of a week.

The building, once owned by the Rothschild family, was left through a covenant to benefit the local communities of Ealing and Hounslow.  Like many of the other historical buildings in Gunnersbury Park, it requires extensive restoration works. 

The Joint Management Committee, which comprises twelve councilors (six from each borough), are currently applying to the Lottery Heritage Fund for funding for these vital renovations and felt it appropriate to exercise their legal right to serve notice to quit by March 2006. 

The Small Mansion Arts Centre has provided a creative working environment for the people of Ealing and Hounslow for over twenty years and currently runs classes every day and evening with subjects covering drawing, painting and woodcarving. Adult education classes run by Ealing Tertiary College, also take place here. 

The Arts Centre management claim the joint committee have been 'bullish' about sharing any information and have paid little attention to ambitious development plans put forward by Paul Butler to them for expanding the good work of the centre. Currently the Arts Centre pays over £16,500 per annum in rent however, if the Council's plans goes ahead, the premises will be empty from March 2006 as there are currently no long term plans in place.

Melanie Aspey of The Rothschild Archive contacted Hounslow Council on behalf of the Arts Centre regarding the notice to quite and the committee's future plans for the building.  In response, Michael Windsor-Sharpe stated " The Lease to the Small Mansion Arts Centre contains by agreement, an option for the Council to terminate the lease on 31.03.2006 by giving the tenant not less than six months notice in writing. The Gunnesbury Park Management Committee representing Hounslow and Ealing Councils, the joint owners of the park have resoved to implement this option and the lease will therefore end on that date. This action is a key step in a strategy for the future preservation of the park and buildings."

He added "No specific permanent use has yet been been identified for the small mansion, but only uses which comply with the de Rothschild covenants or which would be capable of achieving a modification of the covenants,(as did the Small Mansion Arts Centre)and,where appropriate,Planning Consent,would be considered by the joint councils. Only uses of the building which will provide for its restoration and future preservation will be acceptable for the purposes of the park strategy."

The Small Mansion Arts Centre are currently seeking local support to keep the Centre alive.


July 5th 2005