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Black Cultural Archives issue plea to the community

FUNDING: The Black Cultural Archives

THE BLACK Cultural Archives (BCA), Britain’s only national centre dedicated to preserving the history of people of African and Caribbean heritage, is appealing to the black community for support.

Recently it emerged that the BCA has lost two thirds of its revenue funding after four years of Heritage Lottery funding came to an end casting a shadow over the organisation’s future.

However, as leading members of the BCA draw up plans for alternative funding, they are asking people to do whatever they can to enable it to continue its mission of educating present and future generations about black British history.

Dawn Hill, chair of the BCA’s board of trustees told The Voice: “The issue is that the BCA is a national organisation and we’re not getting any of the funding that other national organisations are getting.

“Ministers from the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport have been to the BCA, they’ve seen what we do, have spoken highly about what we do and then nothing happens. We need the community behind us.”

Hill continued: “The BCA is for the black community and highlights the contributions that people of African and Caribbean heritage have made to this country. But it also for everybody because we are part of British history. People need to understand we’re not here by accident. There are many people in our community who appreciate what we are doing. So we’re asking people to help fundraise and support us. They can come into BCA and make a donation, support our café, reading room and exhibition, join as a Friend. They can go online and check the details on our website. We’d also like black churches to take note and join our campaign.”

PICTURED: Dawn Hill, chair of the BCA’s board of trustees

Last week Over 100 cross-party MPs signed a letter urging Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS), Jeremy Wright MP to provide urgent funding support to the BCA which would help secure its long-term financial stability.

Streatham MP Chuka Umunna raised the issue during Prime Minister’s Questions and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also pledged his support to help the BCA secure the funding it needs.

Corbyn said: “Black history is British history, and the Black Cultural Archives is a crucially important institution.
“I am very proud to be supporting the campaign to secure long-term funding so this institution can continue its fantastic and valuable work celebrating and teaching future generations about our history, in all its diversity.”
During a visit to the BCA in February last year, Prince Charles said: “At last, you have a centre such as this, which allows you to develop so many opportunities but also to bring the message to so many people in this country and elsewhere about the remarkable contribution made over so long, by people of African and Caribbean descent who have contributed so much to this country.

"When we think of how many people were involved in (the Second World War) from all around Africa and the Caribbean, their legacy is a truly remarkable one and I am so glad that you are able to ensure that story is told properly," he said.

The BCA made headlines earlier this year when it criticised the destruction of Windrush landing cards and called for similar documents to be donated to them in the future.

Among the BCA’s supporters is Lambeth Council which has been supporting the Brixton based organisation since 2014 when it opened.

Councillor Sonia Winnifred, a Cabinet Member for Equalities and Culture at Lambeth Council told The Voice: “The BCA is a unique organisation – celebrating the contribution of black communities to this country and commemorating their achievements. This year in particular they were at the forefront of celebrating the Windrush Generation and campaigning for justice for them after their appalling treatment by the government’s hostile environment policy. We’re proud to support them – but it’s time for the government to honour its commitments and properly fund this vital national asset.”

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