Curtain falls on pioneering arts centre

Building F. Credit: Michael Croft.

It once played host to Sonic Youth and has hosted art exhibitions for years but the Building F arts space on Stoke Newington Church Street will close for good at the end of this month.

Building F will shut its doors on 31 March after rent negotiations with Hackney Council fell through. The building is leased by art-venue company Annexed, which has used it as a mixed media creative space for the past 13 years.

Annexed director Michael Croft said: “It’s the old story of regeneration. The artists move into places which aren’t safe because it’s cheap, and then the others come in and we can no longer afford the rent.

“I do understand where Hackney Council is coming from. It wants to maximise the revenue from its properties, but at the same time there has to be a balance. Nowadays with the council it’s all about markets.”

Building F is the latest in a series of small business closures in Hackney. 28 business on Stoke Newington Church Street alone have closed since 2015. The art space was also hit by a business rates rise in 2017 when the council upped its charges from £30,000 to £50,000 a year.

Building F has hosted a variety of artists over the years, most notably Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth.

Mr Croft added: “They worked there briefly for about a year and a half. He lived in the area – we did some nights of poetry readings.”

A recent window display at Building F caused some local controversy, with one resident emailing the venue to say it had disturbed their children. The artwork, featuring a pig holding a plate of ham, is now on display inside the building as part of their last exhibition.

Hackney Council had not commented by the time of publication.