The Tea Factory Gallery Tour

Tonight, together with some of Brockley's finest creative minds, Brockley Central was taken on a guided tour of the unfinished Tea Factory, to see first-hand the new Gallery space that is being created as part of the development.

Twenty of us picked our way through the building site by torchlight, as though led by Derek Acorah. The space itself is surprisingly big, about 10 metres from front to back.

We had imagined a token space with room for no more than a couple of Picasso sketches but, while not quite Tate's Turbine Hall, it will offer plenty of flexibility. It will be glass fronted with exposed concrete beams.
The tour was part of the local consultation process designed to find an appropriate group to run the gallery - the decision will ultimately be the Council's. Brockley has a number of existing community groups and it's possible that one of those groups could be given the opportunity to run the gallery or a new body could be created, specifically for the job. Andrew Carmichael from Creative Lewisham suggested one possible model could be the Art in Perpetuity Trust , a charity set up to run the APT Gallery in Deptford. The advantage of this model would be that, in addition to having charitable status, it would ensure that proper focus is given to making the gallery a success and that membership is open to any artist.

It's clear that whichever group takes up the challenge will have to adopt a serious, commercial approach to running the gallery. Although the shell will come rent free, the fit-out costs will be significant, there will still be rates and utility charges to be paid and it will need to establish itself as a credible and viable business within two years, before commercial rents kick-in.

While conducting the tour the developer confirmed that the gallery would have a new cafe as its neighbour (there will be a small area at the front for people to sit outside, off the pavement) and that another unit had been let as office space, although some commercial space and apartments are still available.

Thanks to Andrew Carmichael from Creative Lewisham and the developer Colin Yeates for organising the visit.