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25 January 2010 | News | By: Dean Nicholas

ICA To Close By May?

ICA To Close By May?

Photo / Fin Fahey

The Guardian reported over the weekend that the Institute of Contemporary Arts could be forced to close down by the end of May because of a growing financial predicament.

An internal memo from a bad-tempered board meeting seen by the newspaper reveals that the ICA is £600,000 in the hole, a figure that could double within months unless "drastic measures" are taken; those measures include grinding down a wage bill that currently tops out at £2.5 million to £1 million. Consultations with staff over redudancy packages are underway.Since turning 60 in 2008, the ICA has tried a number of tricks to pull in additional revenue. Two years ago it dropped the £3 entry fee to encourage more people into the bar and cafe, hosted an auction of gewgaws from the likes of Damien Hirst and the Chapman brothers, and last year pocketed a sum of money from the Arts Council to help during the recession. But what director Ekow Eshun described as a "perfect storm" of fiscal maladies has nudged the Institute perilously close to the edge.Aside from dispensing with staff, the ICA plans to "deliver a more integrated programme" to help rectify matters. Whether it will be able to retain good will among employees and visitors is another matter: under Eshun, director since 2005, the Institute has become a less visible presence on London's art scene.The Becks' Futures contemporary art prize, one of its most recognisable events, was scrapped in 2007, and the once-vital film programming at times looks wilfully obscurant. Eshun talks a lot about his plans for the ICA, but as one person at the board meeting said: "[I don't] want to hear the word 'vision' coming from Ekow Eshun again".
Dean Nicholas

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Maybe if their website wasn't so utterly shite, it would be easier for the casual visitor to find out what is going on there and visit the place.


Yeah, I'll second that. I defy anyone to find the all-important 'what's on' link within 20 seconds. Even on a repeat visit.