The message is suddenly very simple.

And urgent.

We will need money from you.

For 5 years and 100 days since the Old Library on the High Street shut its doors, Ealing Council has dithered over what to do with it. It was given to Acton 120 years ago and we've fought to ensure its status as an Asset of Community Value. This limits any move to sell it off for residential use.

With a sympathetic developer we put in a good bid to buy it. No official response. After the fiasco of failing to legally sell Southall Town Hall to the highest bidder, the Council opted instead to lease the Old Library.

So we amended our plans and put in another bid. This time the Acton Arts Project proposed taking an immediate lease for two years while grant and other funds were in place. Again, no response.

Now, after several bid deadlines have come and gone - and still without any sign of a long-promised marketing spec - Ealing has put the building in the hands of an agent, HRH Retail. Another deadline of mid-July has been set.

Having not responded to our suggestion of a rent-free period, we will almost certainly have to show Ealing we can raise funds to equip and run a 2-screen cinema. We're now busy brainstorming which version of crowd-funding is our best way forward. None of the other community cinema/arts hubs we've looked at has done it without asking their community to put some money where their hopes are.

We're heading towards 5,000 supporters. And 2,000 days since this treasure of a building last opened its doors to the public it was gifted to. We want it back. Please be prepared to help us get there.

Our homepage video zips through all the films you could have seen since in the Old Library since its closure. Of all the potential uses for it, only the Acton Arts Project addresses the need to revive the High Street and the night-time economy.

Local architects are working for us gratis to come up with drawings. The Independent Cinema Office is advising us. We're in advanced talks with possible cinema partners. Our MP Rupa Huq is on our side. So too is Acton BID, the organisation representing 600 local businesses.

 

We have a lot going for us.

But we will need start-up money.

Watch this space.

And, please - get ready to put your hand in your pocket!

JUNE 2019

As many of you know, we’ve put together a solid commercial and sustainable community bid, backed by a local developer who is putting up the seven figure sum to buy the building.

Until very recently we were working to a deadline of March 31st - which gave us time to refine and improve the offer we put in to Ealing Council last October.

 

Recently we’ve had a couple of very constructive - meetings with the Council which has thrown up a few things which weren’t previously on the table. 

Firstly, the deadline of March 31st no longer applies. It’s gone. It’s an ex-deadline.

Then there is the possibility that Ealing could lease us the building rather than sell it.

This would change the financing of our bid and would make a difference to grant applications but we are fortunate to have advice from a resident who is an expert in these things...

Also the Council has asked us to potentially consider some kind of partnership with another contender who is currently engaged in several arts and cinema based projects across London. We’ve met with them once and will do so again. We’ll let you know how this goes...

Finally there’s some news just in that another cinema operator MAY be interested in joining with us… This is very early days, but again is something we’ll update you on IF it goes anywhere.

In summary

  • We are still the only community bid for this building.

  • We have 4000 supporters - which sounds great - but it’s not nearly enough.

  • We need your voices, your emails to councillors, your support across social media.

Our message is still simple and clear. 

"Ealing Council, sell us this building"

1 APR 2019

Ealing Council has lifted the curtain a little on the future of The Old Library building on Acton High Street. 

 

Responding to questions put by trustees of The Acton Arts Project, Council leader

Julian Bell said Ealing was looking to extend the listed building’s status as an Asset of Community Value for a further five years. This, he said, was due to be confirmed by January 25th.

 

Asked how the Council planned to gauge the relative merits of community and  commercial bids, he said it was still finalising its ‘disposal requirements’ but price, deliverability and proposed use would be key. He said the priority was for uses “that helped activate the High Street,” which provide “an active frontage and add to the vitality and aesthetics of the High Street.” 

 

He confirmed the Old Library’s planning designation as non-residential but said a  ‘small amount’ of residential that enabled leisure, employment, retail and community uses may be permissible.

 

Community and infrastructure funding promised by developers of The Oaks scheme on Churchfield Road also came under scrutiny. 

 

Councillor Peter Mason (Housing, Planning and Transformation) revealed that £482, 000 was earmarked for Acton. It would go on transport calming measures, open space provision, tree-planting, employment and training and energy monitoring. A further £605, 000 would go into education and healthcare projects borough-wide. 

 

Although The Oaks is due to be completed this summer he said none of this Section 106 money (a levy on developers to mitigate the effects of development) had as yet been spent. 

 

He also revealed the Council sold the Churchfield Road car park for £3m.

 

The full text of the questions put and answers given can be found HERE

25 JANUARY 2019

Fancy a night out in Acton High Street? A movie and a meal in the same building? Now’s your chance.....

 

Five years after its doors were closed to the public a big step’s been taken to revive a landmark community building in Acton for exactly that.

 

A new life for The Old Library on the High Street has now moved from pipedream to prospect. A community bid’s been lodged with Ealing Council to transform it into a state-of-the-art cinema and cafe-restaurant in a corner of Acton crying out for regeneration - night and day.

 

The Acton Arts Centre Project would see the building bought by a sympathetic developer in partnership with the community to combine the films and food plan with office and performance space. Live music, theatre, and stand-up - just some of what’s also planned to energise an entertainment-free end of the High Street.

 

The near-30 bid trustees and advisers all live in Acton and want the best for it. You can find out more about who we are and what the bid’s about by visiting the website: www.actonartsproject.com and signing up as a supporter. Ask your friends and family to do the same.

 

We think Acton needs a place where the whole community can get together for daytime events and a different night out. You can make a difference by giving your support. The Council decides by December which bid wins. We think Acton needs the Acton Arts Project - and it needs YOU!

 

29th OCTOBER 2018

The Acton Arts Project - It needs YOU!

 

Please show your support by:

 

  • coming to the public meeting to hear all the bids.

St Mary's Church Hall

opposite Morrisons

7.15 pm

November 21st

 

  • forwarding this message to any local groups, websites, social media accounts you have. We would like everyone to have the opportunity to comment.

 

  • delivering a few fliers for people who don't use social media.

 

  • Comment, like, share the Actonartsproject on any social media including W3 forum.

29th OCTOBER 2018

After a past of more than a century as a community asset in Acton, we should know by Christmas how Ealing Council sees the future of the Old Library in the High Street. That’s when councillors decide if the building - closed for the last five years - is again to open its doors to the community it was given for by a Victorian businessman with at least as much sense as money.

 

Thanks to all of you who responded to our call for more potential trustees and advisers to chip in their thoughts on how best to commercially achieve the plan of making a cinema, restaurant, and flexible office space from the shell of this stunning building. 

 

With Crossrail around the corner, and big residential schemes at The Oaks, Acton Gardens, and right across the road in the old Town Hall, people will need places to work and to enjoy themselves locally. We think the Old Library has scope for both - and is a big chance to create some day and night-time excitement in a High Street that’s struggled ever since Adam Faith, Sean Connery, Lionel Bart and three quarters of The Who moved on. 

 

We're being considered for GLA funding to match developer finance to help give Acton back another one of its own. The thoroughly researched and costed bid will be with the Council before summer’s out.

 

You can give your support on our Facebook page - Acton Arts Project - or the website: www.actonartsproject.com

 

We welcome any and all potential advisers. If you’re a sympathetic property lawyer or know of one, we’re particularly keen you stick your oar in....

 

Doug Carnegie (trustee)

26th AUGUST 2018

Published in W3 9th August

A hundred and twenty years ago the American ambassador stood on Acton High Street and opened the Old Library for the benefit of the local community.

He was alongside his friend John Passmore Edwards, the Victorian philanthropist who had it built for the people of Acton.

After nearly five years closed to the public while The Curzon Cinema group stroked its chin about what exactly to make of it, the people of Acton are bidding to make it a community asset once again.

A group of local trustees - we're looking for more - and some 20-plus specialist advisers who live within three bus stops, have come up with a commercial plan to combine a cinema, restaurant, and flexible office space out of this dormant public building.

We've applied for matched funding from the GLA's Good Growth Fund. In partnership with a sympathetic developer we hope to convince Ealing Council we're a better bet for the night-time economy and daytime community use than the problem-prone policy of merely selling to the highest bidder.

If you want to find out more and give your support then visit our Facebook page - Acton Arts Project - or the website: www.actonartsproject.com

We could use any help or expertise you have.

Doug Carnegie (trustee)

9th AUGUST 2018

We have submitted our application for £1.5 matched funding to the GLA good growth fund. We will know in September if we progress to stage 2 of the process. Fingers crossed.

July 2018

Acton Arts Project has been registered as charity & the team is busy working to put together a detailed proposal for Ealing Council. The deadline for the Council to receive bids is September 2018.

With the help of a Development Consultant, we've been exploring a number of different financial models for purchasing and converting the building.

We have several interested developers keen to help with the purchase if required. The architect David Hughes is providing drawings and expertise from his experience of converting similar venues.  

 

The following venues have been generous in sharing their experiences with us, to help us fully understand the complexities of running a similar space:

The Lyric Theatre (Hammersmith), The Bush Theatre, The Lexi Cinema, JW3 and The Olympic Cinema.

 

We are also exploring options of partnerships with other successful venues to deliver certain elements of the arts centre, including the cinema and the cafe/bar. 

 

We have a number of parties interested in leasing office / work space for their businesses. 

June 2018

November 2019

There has been an amazing amount of progress since our October update. 

 

At the Cabinet meeting on 15th October, Ealing council announced that Acton Arts Project was the preferred bidder for the leasehold of the old Library building. The support of Ealing Councillors was unanimous. 

 

This was tremendous news for us and for everyone in Acton. However, this is the start of the next phase of hard work.  We really need your continued support to make this dream a reality!

 

We are holding a public meeting on Thursday 7th November in St Mary’s Church at 7.30.  We hope to see you there because this will be our opportunity to present our plans to you all in more detail and you will meet Sam – our partner from Arthouse Crouch End who will be developing and operating the cinema.

 

Our application for funding with the GLA was delivered in time and we are waiting to hear the outcome.  Meanwhile we need to demonstrate our public support and our ability to match fund and this is where we need your help through your pledges on our Spacehive site.  

 

Huge thanks to those of you who have already made pledges. Every contribution means we are one step closer to the doorstep of our Acton cinema. 

October 2019

120 years ago the great Victorian benefactor John Passmore Edwards gave us one of the best buildings in Acton.

But its doors were closed six years ago.

Now we have an excellent chance to get this brick and stone classic back - as a classic cinema.

For two years a dedicated group of local people - The Acton Arts Project - has worked to turn it into a two-screen cinema, cafe-bar and arts hub. Day and night you and your families could see the latest films - and a whole lot more you won’t find in the multiplexes at the other end of the Uxbridge Road.

And it would kick-start the revitalisation of the whole of Acton High Street.

The bid is in front of Ealing Council. Winning the building back will trigger the potential for big grants from the GLA and others. Once it’s up and running, it will make money. But YOUR money is needed to get things started - to fund the planning and re-design inside.

So we’re asking the five thousand who’ve pledged support and waited so patiently - and new supporters - to pledge money.  Whether your contribution is bigger or smaller, every contribution will help. We will be keeping a list of donors and anticipate announcing a range of donor perks at a later date. This is just a pledge. If we don’t manage to hit our target, no money will be taken from your account.

The project is called A Cinema for Acton. 

You can find it   here: https://www.spacehive.com/a-cinema-for-acton. 

Please pledge generously. It’s your chance to help get back a great Acton building - and give it a great Acton future.

September 2019

 

After two years of hard work, our proposal to transform The Old Library on Acton High Street into a two-screen cinema, bar-café and arts hub is being considered by Ealing Council after we delivered it on August 19th. There are other bidders but we are confident that Ealing Council are considering the options very carefully in order to maximise this golden opportunity to regenerate our failing High Street and kick-start a vibrant night-time economy. That doesn’t mean that we are resting on our laurels waiting for news. 

7th November Public Meeting at St Marys Church

The public meeting at St Mary’s Church on 7th November was very well attended.  The packed church was welcomed by the Rev Nick Jones and the project was introduced by Doug Carnegie who gave a brief description of the group behind the Acton Arts Project; how long we have been running and what we are trying to achieve.  Mike Taylor took over to give more detail about the proposed set up, finances and schedule - which was outlined in the presentation slides. The floor was then handed over to Sam Neophytou from Arthouse Crouch End, who will be the partner and tenant responsible for the cinema and in charge of day to day operational control. Sam’s enthusiasm and passion for cinema and community were evident and he received a warm reception from those present. Unfortunately, Piers Read from Time+Space Co, who will occupy the first and second floors, was unable to attend but he had provided Sam with some slides which included some images of the project in Hornsey that they are both currently working on. The event was rounded up with a Q&A and the audience asked some very precise and relevant questions; for example: about the funding, about the space for community meetings (which will be on the first floor), how the diverse community of Acton will be included in and welcomed to the new setting.  

 

We will be planning to hold more public meetings in the near future, at different times of day, if you were unable to attend on the 7th.