Community arts charity defies 'unlawful' eviction notice from another charity

Tudor Spencer, chair of Community Focus (left), criticises the 'aggressively short notice period' given by the Arts Depot Trust

Tudor Spencer (left)
Tudor Spencer (left)

A community arts charity in north London is challenging an eviction notice from its landlord, another charity, because it says the order is unlawful.

Community Focus last week said it could be forced to close because it is being evicted from artsdepot, a professional arts venue in Barnet owned by Barnet Council, by the Arts Depot Trust, the charitable trust that runs the centre.

Community Focus has been told to leave by 5 June so it can be replaced by the London Studio Centre, which provides vocational dance courses.  

But Tim Balogun, director of Community Focus, said the eviction notice had been served incorrectly and the charity had no intention of leaving until the correct legal procedure was followed.

Balogun said the charity was there to stay and promised to "challenge artsdepot’s decision all the way".

Lawyers from DLA Piper, a law firm acting on behalf of Community Focus on a pro-bono basis, have written to artsdepot to say that it must provide a formal undertaking in order to terminate the charity’s tenancy.

A statement from Community Focus said the letter stated that the "supposed eviction notice has no legal effect".

Tudor Spencer, chair of Community Focus, which provides music, art and drama projects and courses for the local community, criticised the "aggressively short notice period" given by Tracy Cooper, chief executive of artsdepot, to leave the premises.

"She didn't consult with us prior to giving notice and offered only an aggressively short notice period, which made the situation more stressful," he said.

But he said that Cooper had agreed to meet Community Focus representatives. "We are looking forward to working together to resolve this matter," said Spencer. 

A spokeswoman for artsdepot said: "As Community Focus is following legal proceedings, this matter has been passed to our lawyers. We are unable to make further comment at this time."

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