A community-led cafe, arts and events space in Hackney is celebrating after securing a new 18-month lease via a crowd-funding initiative, staving off the threat of closure.
The Stour Space, a non-profit organisation, was threatened with closure in late March and management had to find £50,000 by March 27. They raised some £8000 on donor box and gathered other funds from events and sales at the space.
The owners of The Stour Space said in a post on social media regarding the future of the project: “This can be achieved by people visiting the space to attend events and for a drink.”
If all goes well in the next 18 months of business, the owner’s are reportedly looking at a minimum of a 25-year lease. This information was released following a meeting with their landlords, Hackney and Tower Hamlet’s council, The London Legacy Development Corporation and the Mayor of London’s office.
UPDATE FROM STOUR SPACE DIRECTORS , see image for full statement!
*We have secured our lease renewal! We will be issued a new lease by the 16th May!* We are keeping our campaign open for now and you can get some great perks via the https://t.co/wEQafJJEK5 page! 💖#COMMUNITY pic.twitter.com/5bmDQOK3Np
— Stour Space (@StourSpace) 8 May 2019
The space, which opened in 2009, is one of the few affordable studio spaces left for artists to rent on Hackney Wick and Tower Hamlet’s Fish Island – an area which used to be a hub for artists who are now being forced out of the area due to rising rent prices and gentrification.
Described as ‘the new Shoreditch’ by the Telegraph in 2016- rent prices have risen accordingly. Rent for The Stour Space has doubled, now totalling £90,000 a year since it opened in 2009.
This is due to it’s prime placement next to the Olympic Park, which can be seen across from the canal next to the Stour Space.
The owners have however previously stated that they will not raise rent prices for their 40 resident artists. Stour Space co-founder Neil McDonald told the Hackney Citizen: “We believe that this is so important to maintain affordable rents for creative purposes.
“Not only does facilitating creative practice create communities but it’s also a matter of diversity. People from low income backgrounds especially find it difficult to start their own business and make a living from it.”
Local resident and artist Eva Bozyte said: “The Stour Space is a vital part of our community, providing spaces for people to create and socialise. It enhances most-residents day-to-day lives and brings a lot of visibility to the area. Walking past the building closed and empty would be saddening and yet another degradation of this community.”
Since the threat of closure, the venue has been hosting regular events labelled as ‘Save Our Stour Specials’, the proceeds of which go towards securing the future of the artistic hub. The space will continue running, now providing £15,000 upfront quarterly rent rather than monthly payments in order to continue running the space.