Oo-arr, Shoreditch techies want a village hall

* Update: Since publication of this story,  Shoreditch Village Hall duly opened, at 33 Hoxton Square N1 6NN.

A VILLAGE HALL? Morris men dancing on the green, maidens flouncing around the maypole? Sounds more Suffolk than Shoreditch.

Not if social entrepreneur James Governor has his way. The Shoreditch Works co-founders says he has identified a building in the heart of the districts and is planning to fund its fitting-out via Kickstarter.

The venue would be for local organisations to use for meetings and simply for hanging out in. Governor told Loving Dalston: “We want to be a club, but definitely not a private, exclusive members’ club — more like the club where I learned to code when I was 13.

“Sure, we want to create a lovely premium experience for startups, but our ambitions for the village hall are all about inclusiveness: we want to see a lot more diversity in the space than you normally do in Shoreditch, specifically, and the tech business more generally.

About inclusiveness: James Governor
Inclusive: Governor (pic: Ross Kinghorn)

“We don’t want to be the Groucho Club of Shoreditch — there are plenty of people gunning for that.”

The premises were on four floors of a neglected 1950s warehouse that had been empty for several months, he said. The basement and ground floor would be the the “epicentre of our village hall”, the top two floors to be shared by startup businesses.

An events area would seat 200 people. On his website Governor adds: “We are giving 20% of slots free to community groups that are important but don’t necessarily have the cash to hire a big events space, a space where kids can come and code after school, where artists can present their work, where local meet-ups can take place and where our co-workers can meet.”

Governor answers the question “Why does Shoreditch need a village hall, when it already has a town hall?” with a story about an attempt he and a colleague made to hire a room in the grand Old Street building.

They had wanted to hold a meeting to see what interest techies had in helping to build skills for local youth, so he phoned Shoreditch Town Hall.

“We were refused”, he said, “on the ground that the town hall is itself a charity, and therefore would never do anything for free.”

He had “carefully explained”, but then his “blood pressure rose too much to talk to them any more”, he told Loving Dalston. “It totally freaked me out.”

Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier said:  “I welcome any local initiative that encourages local pupils to learn about coding.”

TOP, Lords of the dance: the Morris Men of Little Egypt at a village hall in  Suffolk. Is something like it needed down the Ditch?

David Altheer 240513

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