The Sky is Falling exhibition at the CCA. Image: Alan Dimmick

Centre for Contemporary Arts warns indefinite closure is having “long-term impact”

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 19.09.2018
Venue has been shut since fire at neighbouring Glasgow School of Art
The enforced closure of the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) in Glasgow is having a “devastating long-term impact” on the venue, according to its head of operations.

The multi-purpose arts centre has been cordoned off since the fire at the neighbouring Glasgow School of Art (GSA) on 15 June this year, as efforts continue to stabilise the burnt-out Mackintosh building.

The CCA was originally told by Glasgow City Council that it could reopen on 14 September, but it was forced to cancel a series of exhibitions and events this month after the council pushed the date back. Its programme for October is also in doubt.

In total the CCA has had to cancel more than 300 events and exhibitions since the fire, forcing many of its longstanding partners to make alternative plans.

Representatives from the centre have expressed frustration at the lack of communication they have received from the council. The CCA’s head of operations and finance, Ailsa Nazir, said: “We’re still waiting for a date from the council, we’re desperate to get back in. At the moment, all of our information is coming from the GSA, who have been really helpful.

“We’re hoping to get a date as soon as possible so we can have something concrete to work with.”

Nazir said the lack of access to the site had also caused maintenance issues. The first time the centre’s staff were given permission to enter the building, they discovered that a leak from an upstairs toilet had caused a ceiling to collapse, flooding one of the exhibition spaces and damaging a painting. “That’s something that needs to be addressed when we get back in,” said Nazir. “It’s added another layer of difficulty on top of everything else.”

She said the centre had not received any offer of financial assistance from the council, although it has also received a £20,000 payout from the Scottish government’s fire recovery fund. “It’s helpful but not necessarily a solution to the problems we’re facing,” said Nazir.   

Nazir said local businesses had been much more badly affected by the June fire than the first blaze at the GSA in 2014. “In a way we had a false sense of security after the first fire. This one has had a much more devastating, long-term impact.”

A meeting between the council and local businesses was due to take place last Friday to discuss a recovery plan for the Sauchiehall Street area.

The GSA confirmed last week that the Mackintosh building will be fully restored, but the project may take up to seven years to complete.

The cause of the blaze is not yet known as the site is still too dangerous to be inspected by investigators.

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