Meet the Venue: Battersea Arts Centre

Gallowglass crew helping with the rebuild of the Grand Hall at Battersea Arts Centre

If you’ve been keeping up with our ‘Meet the Venue’ blogs, you’ll know what a diverse range of venues Gallowglass has worked at over the years. From completing over 90 projects at the Royal Albert Hall to building multi-storeyed stands at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, we really have done it all when it comes to fantastic venues. This month, it’s the turn of the Battersea Arts Centre: read how our event crew in London helped to bring this influential building back to life.

 

Welcome to our next venue…

 

Name(s): Battersea Arts Centre

Age: 120 years old

Location: Lavender Hill, London

Size: N/A

Capacity: 640

 

Description:

 

Formerly the Battersea Town Hall, the Battersea Arts Centre contains 80 rooms, playing host to a plethora of events – from art exhibitions and political speeches to plays and private functions. The centre welcomes over 160,000 visitors annually. It continues to play a huge role in inspiring the local community by offering workshops to children and young people. Collaborating with around 400 artists a year, it creates a series of exciting exhibitions and performances.

 

History:

 

Throughout its existence, the Battersea Arts Centre has been a focus for political movements and key moments in the borough’s history.

 

During its time as the Town Hall, this majestic building was frequented by a number of radical figures including Charlotte Despard, Emmeline Pankhurst and London’s first ever black Mayor, John Archer. But despite its cosmopolitan status, the building has been threatened with demolition on several occasions. The first being in 1965, when plans were made for it to be turned into a library and swimming pool after Battersea became part of the London Borough of Wandsworth.

 

In 1979, the Town Hall’s fate was once again in the balance, but thankfully it was transformed into the independent Arts Centre that we know today, run by artistic directors rather than succumbing to council ownership.

 

Then calamity struck in March 2015, when a fire broke out on the roof during a renovation project.  The building suffered substantial damage. Although nobody was injured during the blaze, the Centre’s structure was severely impaired. The Grand Hall, Lower Hall and Tower were completely destroyed. However, some of the smaller sections of the building were saved, and a fundraising campaign initiated shortly afterwards has financed several new developments on the site; some involving Gallowglass.

 

Gallowglass at the Battersea Arts Centre

 

We had already been working at the Battersea Arts Centre for a number of years, undertaking stage builds and loading equipment and sets in and out for different shows. But our stand-out project has unquestionably been assisting with the building of the new temporary seating structure in the Grand Hall.

 

Over a three-day period, ten Gallowglass crewmen worked tirelessly to install the new main seating structure, loading-in all the steel deck and building each level individually to create stylish and practical seating. Work carried out by Gallowglass and other restoration teams has enabled what is now a semi-permanent structure to once again form an integral part of the Battersea Arts Centre, with performances scheduled into the New Year and beyond.

 

If reading about our work at the Battersea Arts Centre has sparked your interest in crewing and events, why not get in touch today to see what opportunities we could offer you? Alternatively, visit our blog to discover more about the iconic venues Gallowglass have worked at over the years.

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