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Community centre activists fight eviction threat

Salman Shaheen

 

This week, whilst down in London, I visited the Circle Community Centre in Tufnell Park, where a Hands off Venezuela event was being held. The round church building, St George’s theatre, was originally used as a community space, but has been abandoned and unused for over four years. It has recently been bought up by an organisation who want to turn it into a single denomination church, and strictly limit community based activity held there, which would be detrimental to the diverse multicultural local community. In response, a group of activists occupied the building in September 2004, and have squatted it ever since, running it as an environmentally aware theatre and community centre.

 

Stepping inside the low building, past racks of green and lefty newspapers, and tables covered with political and community leaflets, the sweet smell of burning incense, and the odd whiff of pungent cannabis smoke fills the nostrils. The place is warm, friendly and inviting. Children’s paintings cover the walls, surrounding comfortable furniture and an old piano, against which a couple of guitars rest. At one end is a bar, where the friendly volunteers offer a wide range of hot and cold food and drinks, in return for a small donation to the centre. That evening they were serving traditional Venezuelan food, to accompany the theme of the event being hosted there. Just down the hall is the large round church building, at the far end of which is the stage used to host many of their events and performances.

 

Circle Community Centre is run entirely by committed volunteers on a non-profit basis. Their numbers comprise environmentalists, anarchists, activists of all shapes and sizes, artists, musicians, performers, builders, gardeners and many more. Their aims are to continue to run the building as a progressive centre for all groups in the community, resisting eviction and efforts to turn it into a church, which would run only a small number of church based activities.

 

The centre hosts regular community events and workshops for all to participate in, from yoga and meditation, to musical performances of different genres, and from comedy, children’s events and theatre, to leftist political meetings. The centre is committed to a progressive outlook and a strongly environmental approach. It is, however, under constant threat of eviction, and needs support from as many individuals and groups as possible in order for them to resist, and remain open to provide a valuable service to the community for as long as possible. If Circle Community Centre were to be closed, Tufnell Park would lose a valuable cultural asset.

 

Circle Community Centre is supported by a range of organisations and groups, such as the Green Party, Indymedia, Dissent, Green Futures, Cirque Idyllic, local bands and performers, Hands off Venezuela and many others. They welcome support from any volunteers willing to help out, and constant repair work, maintenance and cleaning is necessary, as well as serving guests and running the events themselves. If you want to pop down to visit, then they are open for a seat and a cuppa from 4pm till 7pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and for cabaret and open mic Fridays 8pm to 11pm, and of course at times when regular events are advertised.

 

Please get involved, and help prevent the eviction of a sound bunch of activists, committed to environmental sustainability and community action.

 

To get involved or get in touch contact:

 

Circle Community Centre
St. George’s Theatre
49 Tufnell Park Road
London N7 0PS

Phone: 020 7609 1283 / 07862 182817 / 07769 791387

Email: circlecommunity@yahoo.co.uk 

www.circlecommunity.org.uk

 

rejuv playing at the centre

 

April 2005

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