For almost 90 years, Cork Street in Mayfair has been one of the most famous streets for art galleries in London, and possibly the world. Cork Street is known and loved not only in Britain but internationally, and provides a major draw to London and the UK throughout the year. The history and atmosphere of this street, as well as its close proximity to the Royal Academy of Arts, make this a unique place to visit for collectors, art enthusiasts, students and tourists alike.
The careers of many prominent British artists – Barbara Hepworth, Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, and Lynn Chadwick, to name a few – have been closely associated with Cork Street.
In August 2012, Standard Life, the landlord for seven galleries on Cork Street, agreed to sell the building to a property developer called Native Land. This means that the Mayor Gallery (the oldest gallery on Cork Street), Beaux Arts, Alpha Gallery, Adam Gallery, Stoppenbach & Delestre, Waterhouse & Dodd and Gallery 27 will lose their leases, possibly as early as next year. The planning application, largely for a residential development, is expected within the next few months and, if planning permission is granted, The Pollen Estate, owner of many of the properties on the opposite side of Cork Street housing another dozen galleries, is expected to follow suit, and this key art centre could be lost forever.
The effect of this redevelopment will be far reaching, not only for all of the galleries in Cork Street but also for their stakeholders who, of course, include artists themselves. Businesses such as shippers, framers, catelogue producers and other local service providers will be severely damaged as well.
Not only is Cork Street being affected by redevelopment plans but so also is Mayfair in general. Turning office space into expensive apartments, most likely to be bought by wealthy foreigners who spend little time in London, will turn this vibrant area into a ghost town.
During the redevelopment the street will be a building site for a number of years. Even if the galleries wanted to return to Cork Street after this time, for most it would probably not be financially viable, since they would doubtless be competing for the space with fashion houses and restaurants as has been seen in the surrounding streets recently.
With your help, we believe that we can convince Westminster Council to designate Cork Street as a Special Policy Area for Arts and Antiques, thereby ensuring that Cork Street can be preserved as a centre of excellence for the arts. Without this designation, Mayfair’s rising rents and very high rates mean that there will never be such a prominent and focused street dedicated to the promotion of fine art in this area again. Please show your support for Cork Street by adding your name to the petition today.
Please feel free to forward this on to anyone else who you think may be interested in signing.
© 2012, ArtSmacked. All rights reserved.