JUST AS FALLING property prices around London start to hit in Hackney, along comes a cultural scheme bound to add to the appeal of the area.
The rescue of a neglected 1930s cinema in Dalston with the stated aim of converting it to an arts centre has been accomplished with remarkable speed by a Shoreditch entrepreneur.
Already his openness, which has included public tours of the building, has won him support from councillors and £3 million from investors to remake the decaying picture theatre as a 2,500-person venue. A charity has been asked to run educational programmes for youngsters with learning problems.
Foxcroft hopes “HAC will be a springboard for the next generation of creative talent” and that “local artists, thinkers and musicians will be able to get their message to a larger audience”.
Some decorations and other art deco features in the main auditorium, under-used for more than 20 years, will be restored, Foxcroft says. Two other sections of the old movie-house have been lately used as a bar-café, and the plan is for all three areas to be used variously for readings, comedy, debate, visual art, theatre and music — the kind of thing that happens at Village Underground.
Educated millennials often publicly moan about “gentrification” — as if anyone would want former cinemas to continue to crumble — while privately delighted that the kind of after-hours activity they enjoy will be on offer to them within walking distance.
Of course, the issue is more complicated than that. Yet it is noticeable how often change — eg, transport improvements — can enhance residents’ experience of an area, something especially noticeable to those who remember the dire dullness of Hackney during the Thatcherite 1980s.
David Altheer 270418
* Northern headbangers Pulled Apart By Horses will play at Hackney Arts Centre, 15 Stoke Newington Road N16 8BH map, on Friday 4 May 2018. To see a Hackney Arts Centre promotional video, press this link.
* Backstory: Foxcroft fundraiser pays off; Movie music live in Shoreditch; Victim of its own gentrification; In a Pickle about Dalston gentrification. Pictures © DavidAltheer [at] gmail.com, apart from band and Savoy pix. Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.