Over 100 cross-party MPs have signed a letter urging Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS), Jeremy Wright MP to provide urgent funding support to the Black Cultural Archives (BCA).
BCA is the only national heritage centre dedicated to collecting, preserving and celebrating the histories of African and Caribbean people in Britain, yet it has no core funding from the Government, and has seen its funding drop by two-thirds in recent months to an unsustainable level.
Four years of Heritage Lottery Funding has come to an end, resulting in the loss of two thirds of BCA’s revenue funding. This has left the local Council, Lambeth, as BCA’s major funder at a time when Councils across the country are facing unprecedented pressure on their resources. Lambeth Council is a long term supporter of the BCA and remains completely committed to continuing to support BCA, but cannot be expected to plug the current funding gap.
Michael Ellis MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for DCMS, visited BCA in June 2018 and agreed that officials from DCMS would work with BCA as a matter of urgency to address the funding challenges. However, there has been no meaningful follow up with BCA, even following repeated attempt to contact DCMS, and in the meantime BCA had had to undertake a comprehensive internal restructure to respond to the drop in income.
In the letter, the MPs say:
“The BCA is a vitally important institution, which must be supported to address the current funding issues and to achieve a sustainable plan for the future. We are therefore writing to ask that, as a matter of urgency you commit short term funding to sustain the BCA and work with the organisation on a sustainable funding plan for the future, including the establishment of an endowment.”
Paul Reid, Director of the BCA said:
“We call on the broadest spectrum of society from local community, private sector, high net worth individuals, trusts and foundations, through to central government to join our #BackBCA campaign.”
Helen Hayes MP, in whose constituency the BCA is located said:
“The BCA is an amazing organisation with a thirty year history, and its work has never been more important. In this Windrush 70th anniversary year, the Government must step in to place this national organisation on a sustainable financial footing for the future and #BackBCA.”
Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham and patron of BCA, added:
“Black Cultural Archives is a vitally important institution for the community, and part of keeping our heritage and history alive for the next generation.
“However, in this Windrush anniversary year, the BCA is facing a serious funding crisis. Repeated attempts to reach out to the Government have so far been met with inaction. The Government must act now, before it is too late and this vital pillar of the African-Caribbean community is lost.”