Spotlight on Brixton’s Black Cultural Archives
The Black Cultural Archives is rare in London’s cultural landscape. It is the nation’s only repository completely dedicated to archiving the history and culture of black people in the U.K., and because of this, it stands in stark contrast to many of London’s other cultural landmarks.
Founded in 1981 by Len Garrison and a number of other figures from the Black British community, the Cultural Archives began as a collection that intended to address the historical representation of black people in Britain. Originally housed on Coldharbour Lane in Brixton, the archives have grown considerably over the past few decades, moving to various locations across South London, before eventually returning to Brixton in Windrush Square in 2014.
As well as the centre’s comprehensive archive collection, the Cultural Archive hosts exhibitions on the history of black Britons throughout the year and hosts a number of educational and cultural events ranging from poetry to self-help.
Despite over three decades as one of the community’s most valued and unique cultural and educational resources, the Cultural Archives are now facing difficult times financially. Unlike a number of other nationally recognised cultural institutions, the archives do not receive public funding from the government, and over the years have been reliant on donations and lottery funding. They are currently facing the threat of closure due to funding issues.
There is currently a political campaign to save the archives led by local MP Chuka Umuna. It is doubtless that community support will be needed. In a time in which the Windrush scandal shows how the contribution of black people in this country can easily be forgotten, the importance of institutions to preserve and promote this history is even more vital.
SACCO supports the campaign to save the Brixton Archives. You can find out more about their work and current events by visiting: https://blackculturalarchives.org