Glasgow arts hub ‘blighted’ by closure following art school fire
Glasgow’s foremost arts and culture venue, the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA), faces a “permanent hollowing out” as it enters its fourth month of enforced closure caused by the Glasgow School of Art fire.
Its director Francis McKee believes that the CCA has been brought to the brink by a fundamental failure on the part of Glasgow City Council to understand the nature and scale of the organisation that is considered an important driver in the city’s cultural renaissance over the past 30 years.
While describing a new provisional re-entry date of 15 October as “more hopeful”, McKee said: “Nobody seemed to understand what the CCA was for, the scale of the organisation and what long-term closure would mean. There’s been a complete lack of understanding of the scale of what we do, and then we’re not at the table when decisions are made about our future. So the help we were offered was not the help we needed. That is a real frustration.”
Representatives of the CCA were set to meet yesterday to discuss a recovery plan for the Sauchiehall Street area. The centre and other businesses are still affected by the security cordon, imposed by the council’s building control as the painstaking work to stabilise the remaining structure of the devastated Mackintosh building continues.
The CCA was told on Thursday afternoon that the art school is working to a revised completion date of 14 October, a month later than the CCA had previously anticipated, but that this is “potentially subject to change and is dependent on both weather and the technical progress being made by the [Glasgow School of Art] contractors”.
The meeting comes amid further criticism by other residents and businesses still excluded from their homes and businesses of “shambolic” crisis management. Some tenants returned to their homes only to wait days for their gas supply to be re-installed.
With more than 300 events and exhibitions at the CCA cancelled since the fire on 16 June, the 18 businesses and organisations that reside within the multi-purpose arts centre, which has offered a unique cultural hub for the city since it opened in 1992, remain in limbo. The CCA cafe fears that, having exhausted its insurance policy, it will have to sack its 32 staff.
“There is a genuine fear that the CCA will be permanently hollowed out”, said McKee.
The centre works with some 366 partners, including the Glasgow Film Festival and Celtic Connections, which have now been forced to find different venues during the autumn, the CCA’s busiest programming season.
The Glasgow School of Art insists that its contractors are working “flat out”, but underlined that all progress must be inspected and signed off by the council’s building control officials.