Yesterday we publicly called on the leader of North Tyneside Council, Mayor Norma Redfearn DBE, to intervene in the pending eviction of the Exchange Arts Theatre Charity from its venue of seven years.
In a letter to the mayor sent on Wednesday 22 March, Equity criticised the council’s purely “commercial decision" and added that it "does not represent a real investment in the cultural value to the local community.” The charity has leased the building from the council for the past seven years but are due to be evicted by 17 April following the council’s decision to award the lease to a commercial company.
The call comes as we launch a campaign to ‘Save the Exchange,’ with a petition to North Tyneside Council that has already passed 700 signatures.
The Exchange theatre charity is a valuable part of the local cultural scene, employing many of its members on union pay rates. The Exchange charity has successfully hosted local community groups, arts and culture exhibitions and theatre productions in the region. They were unsuccessful in the council tender process and have been unable to remain in the building. The council has not as yet provided any support for them to find a new venue.
We have also tabled an emergency motion to the Trades Union Congress’ Northern regional conference, taking place this Saturday in Newcastle. The motion criticizes the local council for the decision it has taken, and calls on it to pause the eviction and offer financial support to the Exchange charity whilst it finds another venue in the local community.
Dominic Bascombe, Regional Official for North East, Yorkshire and Humberside, said:
“We appreciate that the council is seeking commercial investments, but this should proceed on the basis that a venue offering real cultural value is maintained or at least supported in finding an alternative place, or even better, properly supported to work within a commercial setting.
“The focus of North Tyneside Council seems to be on buildings rather than enhancing the cultural value on offer. This is simply wrong. We know that when arts and culture is diminished there is a long- lasting impact on local communities.
“We are also keen to secure commitment from North Tyneside Council that all work taking place at The Exchange and cultural venues across North Shields will operate under agreed trade union agreements.”
Sign the petition