Friday, March 19, 2010

Hackney - Borough of Sanctuary?

City of Sanctuary is a movement to build a culture of hospitality for people seeking sanctuary in the UK. Think we should make Hackney a ‘borough of sanctuary’? Just one of the issues that will be discussed at our Celebrate Hackney Festival on June 5th. Visit: to find out about the campaign.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A message from CITIZENS for Sanctuary Get your Parliamentary Candidate to sign the sanctuary pledge..

Dear all,

Have you asked your Prospective Parliamentary Candidate to sign the Sanctuary Pledge yet?

CITIZENS for Sanctuary has brought together an alliance of 13 organisations - including the Church of England, Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Chief Rabbi and the Muslim Council of Britain - representing 7 million people across the UK, to back the Sanctuary Pledge at the 2010 election.

Our aim is simple. Building on the recommendations of the Independent Asylum Commission, we want Prospective Parliamentary Candidates from all the main parties across the country to sign up to the Sanctuary Pledge. The Sanctuary Pledge commits our politicians to celebrating the UK’s history and current role as a place of sanctuary for people fleeing persecution. It calls on them to campaign responsibly and not to pander to fear and prejudice. And it calls for a small but significant policy change – an end to the locking up of innocent children.

A time of huge opportunity for change

This is a time of huge opportunity. For the next few months, in the immediate run-up to the election, the balance of power between the politicians and the people radically alters in our favour. The past decade has not been a good one for those of us who care about the treatment of people who seek sanctuary in the UK. Now, as the polls tighten and the prospect of a hung parliament looms, the politicians become ever more desperate for our votes. Now is our opportunity.

That is why, over the past few months, we have trained hundreds of people in constituencies across the UK to negotiate with their parliamentary candidates to support the Sanctuary Pledge. If we can get delegations of citizens who care about this issue to meet with their candidates in the 200 battleground constituencies that matter to the political parties, then the pressure to end child detention will be impossible to resist. Which of the political parties is going to want local citizens publicly asking their candidate ‘You don’t back the Sanctuary Pledge? So why is it that you want to lock up innocent children?’ in the 200 most important marginal constituencies across the UK? The good news is we have already identified Sanctuary Champions to ask that very question in 112 of those 200 constituencies – plus in lots of other constituencies that are not marginal but that add weight to the cause.

We need you to help us end child detention

Now we need you to get involved too. In the next few weeks a number of high profile figures will come out in support of the Sanctuary Pledge. Already in the past few weeks, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, plus a whole host of actors, authors, clergy and celebrities have called for an end to child detention in letters to national newspapers. But letters to the Guardian won’t end child detention – for that to happen we need you to nobble your local parliamentary candidates and increase the pressure on the parties centrally.

It really is very simple – we will tell you who your candidates are and their contact details, we’ll put you in touch with other like-minded folk in your area, and provide you with a Mobilisation Pack which will guide you through the process step-by-step. And we have experienced staff on stand-by to provide advice and support as needed. We are all busy, but it really is a minimal time commitment when you consider that a political opportunity like this occurs once in a generation.

Take action now

Time is running out – the election is likely to be on May 6th. So please, get involved and take action now. Be trained as a Sanctuary Organiser on March 20th in London: email for registration. Visit or email and we will get back to you with information about how to get involved in your area. And pass this email on to others you think might be interested.

Thank you to those of you who have already committed to supporting the Sanctuary Pledge – together our co-ordinated action across the country will bring success, and an end to the detention of children.

Best wishes,


Jonathan Cox
Lead Organiser
CITIZENS for Sanctuary
07919 484066

Use your power at the 2010
election to put a stop to the
locking up of innocent children.
I'm backing the Pledge.
Will you?

Monday, March 8, 2010


Please attend the open public meeting at 6.30 pm on Thursday 11 March at the Hackney Empire Theatre’

Roland and Claire Muldoon call for an all out effort to SAVE THE HACKNEY EMPIRE....

We have received numerous requests to do something to halt the impending disaster. We intend to mobilise as many as we can of those concerned for the future of the community orientated Theatre. Please attend the open public meeting at 6.30 pm on Thursday 11 March at the Hackney Empire Theatre’. Questions have been requested : so read on....

Liz Forgan, Chair of the Arts Council, recently declared in the Evening Standard....’most arts venues in England operate on a 30:30:30 rule of thumb — box office, private fundraising and subsidy. For every £1 the Arts Council puts in, £2 is pulled in from elsewhere, totaling £3 in income to the theatre or dance house. It has taken years to build up this system, and artists, arts organisations and their boards have become skilled partners with private sponsors and industry.’

Bearing in mind that the Theatre has survived since 2006 with 13% contributed from public subsidy, yet won a unique and popular following. Why did it fail to attract the 17% increase in Arts revenue funding which, by her own statement, the Theatre would be entitled to. Was this down to an ineffective Board of Directors?

Some questions for the Arts Council:

Does Liz Forgan know that there is huge public concern over the plans of Hackney Empire Ltd’s Board of Directors?

Does she support their plans to sell its hard fought for asset, The Bullion Room, and that it has threatened liquidation of the Company if this ill thought out action fails?

Does she know that the Arts Council backed plan to close for nine months 'reflection' has become farcical, as the true state of the current trading deficit turns out be not £1.5million but below £400,000? Or that the risk free 2010 programme, that the theatre was forced to cancel, would have contributed to reducing the loss as well as preserving the reputation and credibility of this locally important venue?

Is Liz Forgan aware that the costs incurred by the interim CEO Clarie Middleton are greater than the so called savings?

Does she have confidence in the Board's Finance and General Purpose Committee, under who’s leadership has led the Company to this crisis? Are they unaware that the Staff’s National Insurance Contributions have been deducted from their wages but not paid to NIC, since 2006? Or, if they were aware what were they up to?

Does the Arts and Hackney councils have another plan for the theatre, perhaps a change of policy up their sleeves? If so, can they/she distinguish for us all what they have against the established record of this pioneering Theatre and why they favour a change?

Why have the artists and contributors to the theatre’s recent programme not been paid, even though the Theatre is in receipt of sufficient public funding for one of the projects and properly earned box office income for the others?

Isn't it time to stop the rot and open the books and SAVE THE HACKNEY EMPIRE from its own Directors; say goodbye to Ms Middleton and reinstate the professional staff?

Some more questions for the meeting:

Now that it is in the public domain. What is the actual value of the soft capital loan from Sir Alan Sugar?
Is he now pressing for its return?
Has he even been made aware of the current management crisis?
Has his opinion be sought bearing in mind that his £1.3m gift was for a theatre of which, it is claimed, that its policies are about to be radically changed?
If half of the revenue deficit has been mitigated with the support of Arts and Hackney councils, leaving it at below £400,000 wouldn't it have been sensible to continue to hire out the theatre
together with the already planned, risk free, 2010 theatre programme that projected a surplus?
Have those major contributors to the charity's £19m Appeal been consulted regarding the change of policies which are now being planned?
What was the point of removing the programming staff before the change of direction has been endorsed by a new Board Directors? Bearing in mind that despite extremely low revenue funding, their work kept the Theatre afloat, were not responsible for the deficit, but were pursuing the Theatres declared progressive and accessible polices.
What pressure are the funding Bodies putting on the Theatre to change course? Does this relate to their disapproval of the Theatre’s programme or to the dysfunctional, divided and ill advised Board of Directors?
Was, Interim CEO, Clarie Middleton’s trail of destruction across Britain's precious theatre companies taken into consideration when she was given control of the Hackney Empire? Particularly when considering her wage is bigger than the top staff she made redundant.
Should the Members who sit on both the Boards of the freeholder:, Hackney Empire Preservation Trust and its tenant; Hackney Empire Limited, be allowed to influence the outcome of the Theatre’s future?
Do the funding bodies and Ms Middleton subscribe to the view that the theatre has too much Black theatre production included in the recent programme?
What consideration have those authorities involved in the re-direction of the Hackney Empire given to the hostility to their plans shown by Hackney residents?
Is there a plan to hive of the Theatre’s bars? e.g: seeking an arrangement with the Landlord of the Ship Pub (adjacent to the Empire) is being offered to run the Bars as a concession? If so, what is the benefit of such a deal as this to the Theatre and its audiences? What guarantees could be sought to protect the multi-racial policy of the Theatre and ensure proper access to the non alcohol drinking and traditionally low consuming audiences, over and above the demands of a profit driven commercial arrangement?
What guarantees can be offered that the policies of: access, community outreach, anti racism and discrimination, education and programming independence will be continued by any incoming Arts Council backed company?
The Hackney Empire was a purpose built Variety Theatre which, since 1986, has been seen as the home of the influential New Variety genre. What plans are being considered to promote this celebrated image?

We call on the Arts and Hackney Councils to call a halt to Ms Middleton’s and the Hackney Empire LTD destruction of a viable Theatre and, with help from its real supporters, negotiate a return to its
progressive and Independent programme. Support the Hackney Empire with sufficient funds and knowledgeable management.

Roland Muldoon, CEO and Artistic Director, Hackney Empire 1986 – 2005
Claire Muldoon, Head of Programming, Hackney Empire, 1986 – 2005

Monday, March 1, 2010

An anti-BNP campaign message from Nick Lowe at Searchlight...

It's time to pick up the phone.

I'm really excited to launch an innovative new way for you to fight the BNP right from your home. Introducing: our phone bank tool -- which allows you to speak to key voters in an area that the BNP are really threatening -- Barking and Dagenham.

And you can do it right from the comfort of your own home. We're hoping to make 1000 calls to voters today -- will you call for change?

All you need to do is log in and you will get the contact information for 20 potential voters in an area that the BNP are threatening. We'll provide talking points and a simple script -- it's really easy to use so there's no need to worry. Just have your phone ready and you can get started.

Will you call 20 voters today? Our goal is to contact 1000 voters today. But we can't do it without you.

Log in and get started:

People often say that they feel powerless -- that we can't change things.

They're wrong.

Every voter we speak to means that the BNP have less chance of winning seats in Parliament or taking control of local Government. Making phone calls is simple to do and it has a massive impact.

Log in now, read our helpful talking points and call 20 key voters.

Remember how you felt watching Nick Griffin winning power -- now please make 20 calls to stop that happening ever again.