Fragments 3, 2003
Vanley Burke

The Waterhall, Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery
until 26th September 2004

London Loses Foremost Home for Artists’ Film and Video and Digital Arts with Closure of the Lux Centre [ 11/01]

"With the demise of the Lux, London is in danger of becoming a desert for the digital arts…… There is very little happening in London [in the digital arts] outside the commercial sector…..the capital needs a more mixed ecology."(Sean Dobson, The Guardian, Nov. 1 link .)

On Tuesday October 2, the Lux Centre in Hoxton Square, London closed its doors for the last time. The Lux comprised a cinema, gallery and state-of-the-art facilities for film and video production and post-production. It organised a bi-annual film and video festival - Pandaemonium - and held Europe's largest collection of avant-garde artists' film and video. It also became London’s foremost resource for artists’ film and video artists offering support and advice on distribution and exhibition.

Lux was awarded £8.5 million from the Lottery to convert the premises in Hoxton Square. However the situation was confounded by complex sub-letting arrangements with the British Film Institute holding the lease for two floors of the building. If and in whatever form Lux reappears, it will not be at the address it has occupied since October 1997. Then, the ground rent was £8 per square foot, an increase to over £30 per square foot - a figure which according to Mik Flood, the Chairman of the Lux Board, is nearer the commercial rate for that part of town . The inability of the organisation and funding bodies to support this made closure inevitable. Somewhere, amongst the many partners involved the sums had been unrealistically calculated, with the subsequent loss of an immensely important cultural asset.

Apart from its potential to stimulate new media work beyond the commercial sector, and providing a ‘home’ for London’s digital artists, Lux was important as an archive for a collection of 3500 original videos and films by artists, which must not be lost.

Immediately prior to closure staff at Lux had been working on a special season of Ukrainian video and film, with contributions from Belorusse and Lithuania, and artists coming to present and talk about their work. This has had to be cancelled.

As Sean Dobson points out in his article (cited above) elsewhere in the country, funded through enlightened Regional Development Agencies and EU resources, digital arts are seen as important contributors to regeneration and social change. Other links: European Cultural Backbone; Guardian article by Ian White, Oct 6, link.