This morning, UCLU Arts society presidents were informed that UCL’s 547-seat Bloomsbury Theatre will remain closed until 2018.
Arts societies are currently preparing to pitch next year’s shows to the Bloomsbury bid panel, which will still go ahead, despite UCL having promised no alternative venue for performances as yet.
In an email, AEO Asad Khan wrote that information was still incoming from UCL, and that UCLU was working to understand the situation and how best to work with societies to ensure the tradition of UCLU Arts would continue.
Last year, UCLU scrambled to find alternative venues for societies’ 2016 Bloomsbury shows, when UCL announced a theatre closure after performance slots had already been allocated. The theatre closure was then brought forward after construction workers discovered asbestos in the auditorium, meaning term one shows in 2015 were rearranged or cancelled.
UCL agreed to pay for theatre costs following this unanticipated withdrawal of performance space, but it appears that they have thus far not agreed to the same for the coming year.
The extension of the theatre closure represents a huge blow for Arts societies, who had hoped to get back on their feet after both the Bloomsbury and the Garage had been taken away from them in the last two years.
Musical Theatre Society President Emma Groome responded: “How little regard UCL has for its students is frankly disturbing. Honestly, if I were 18 and applying to universities now, I wouldn’t go near it with a barge pole. I’m speechless.”
While Drama President Matt Aldridge said: “The fact UCLU had access to a theatre of this calibre is one of the big reasons I came to UCL. This will be a huge loss for all arts societies. UCLU now has to stand up and show it cares about the experience of its community, all the hard work we put in and possesses the competence to get an explanation and a equivalent replacement out of UCL.”
He added: “The way UCLU Arts Societies are continually sidelined is a fucking joke.”
Societies will meet with Khan at 13.00 this Thursday to discuss the problem. It’s expected that Culture Club, the coalition of Arts societies, will demand a replacement performance venue of comparable size.
Featured image: Wiki Commons