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Rally to save popular Holloway arts centre

PUBLISHED: 12:36 07 July 2011

Dancers and drummers from the Queensland Centre

Dancers and drummers from the Queensland Centre

Archant

»A community centre that involves isolated people in the performing arts held an event on Sunday to campaign against cuts that threaten its existence.

The Queensland Multi-Media Arts Centre in Brewery Road, Holloway, arranges drumming workshops, IT tuition for pensioners, graphic design, dance and DJ classes, as well as job clubs for the 360 people who attend every week.

But the council has slashed its budget by £20,000 to £10,000 a year, which organisers say could force them to close. They held the display to showcase the work done for the community.

Dorri Valery, a director of the centre, said: “The event on Sunday was fantastic – we had dancing, rapping, drumming, all sorts.

“For us to survive after these cuts will be one hell of a test. If the worst comes to the worst, we will move to another borough, but we don’t want to.

“We are not like an ordinary community centre and I find it ludicrous that they can even think about cutting our budget by such a huge amount.

“We need to be self-sufficient. We are not going to bother with Islington because they have shown us no support or respect. They have pushed us right to the bottom. We have done so much with this centre, but if we have to move will go right back to the start.”

‘Shame’

Selina Bowler, 28, who has attended job search sessions at the centre, said: “I am from a Muslim background and I don’t always get the chance to integrate with a lot of different people, but at QMMAC everyone was so nice.

“It would be terrible if it closed and it is a shame the council don’t understand what is going on here. They can’t do or they wouldn’t be making these cuts.”

Naima Aissat, who has been going to QMMAC for 12 years, said: “It is a vital project and it represents everything that is good about London. If it is shut down so many people will be heartbroken and we will stand against the closure.”

The centre also provides an opportunity for children who have been involved with crime to find a creative outlet.

Danny Gibbons, who teaches drumming, said: “This centre has done so many wonderful things. We are so scared of it closing. Getting these kids involved with music is a way of keeping them off the street. If it closes they would not have anywhere to go.

“The workshops at this centre gives them something to get involved with and use their energy positively, rather than roaming around the estates like a pack of wolves.”

Cllr Paul Convery, executive member for planning, regeneration and transport, said: “We are having to implement cuts, but we are doing it as carefully as possible. The big problem with QMMAC is their premises cost £22,000 a year, which means most of the council funding goes in the landlord’s pocket. We are helping other organisations move, and we hope QMMAC will do the same. We cannot afford to fund QMMAC to that level.”

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