Rich Mix is in danger of closing down and has launched an urgent petition for support.
The petition, which gained more than 5,000 signatures in four days, urges Tower Hamlets Council not to proceed with legal action over the repayment of £850,000, given to Rich Mix in 2002 for the refurbishment of its premises at 35-47 Bethnal Green Road.
If a court hearing, set for 20 July, finds in the council’s favour, Rich Mix could be forced to repay the money in one lump sum instead of in instalments, which according to its CEO Jane Earl has the potential to bankrupt the organisation and force it to close.
Commenters on the website change.org, which is hosting the petition, have overwhelmingly voiced their support for Rich Mix.
Londoner Michael Dollan said: “Rich Mix is a venue that encourages the appreciation and experience of a wide ranges of arts. Culture unites communities. It’s a no brainer, close it and step back in time to the days of heightened cultural division.”
Artist Amie Taylor added: “The venue has supported me massively as an artist and enabled me to earn a living when no where else would. I’m sure many artists feel the same.”
Earl hopes the petition will show Tower Hamlets Council that Rich Mix is more than a “fringe venue for minority interests”, and convince them to accept a settlement offer.
“We’d much rather that we settle the case rather than having to spend money on internal and external legal fees,” she added.
A spokesperson for Tower Hamlets Council, following an investigation by the East End Review last January into the situation, said: “The council considers that it would be inappropriate to comment on either ongoing litigation or associated settlement discussions. Irrespective of the litigation between the parties the council remains open to constructive discussions with Rich Mix over possible partnership funding.
“During these difficult times for local government funding and taking into account the council’s statutory obligations, the council must ensure that any further funding is appropriate, affordable and delivers value for the borough.”