Nov 15 2012 by Hannah Bewley, Harrow Observer
AFTER six years of leading an art gallery and turning it into a hot spot for upcoming talent, the coordinator is stepping down due to funding cuts.
Lorenzo Belenguer, 42, has been curator for Brent Artists Resource (BAR) in Willesden for six years, but is moving on after the organisation lost a grant from Brent Council, which cut the coordinator role from three days a week to one, which he said made it almost impossible for him to carry on.
He said: “We are going through difficult times and people have to make tough decisions. We had a service level agreement but it wasn’t renewed so we have been left in a bit of a limbo. We have been managing as we rent out gallery space and that is a bit of income, as well as collecting membership fees.”
During his time he has brought more people to the gallery space in Willesden Green Library Centre, High Road, Willesden, and has helped establish the group as a vibrant hive of activity in north west London.
Mr Belenguer, who lives in Kensal Rise, said: “It has been a big part of my life. BAR is a community. It has been very special because I have seen artists grow.
“We were named by the BBC as one of the top galleries in London, we were over the moon about it, we couldn’t believe it.”
BAR had been told it would have to leave the gallery last December, but due to a protracted consultation period on the future of the building, it is able to stay until March.
The new designs for the centre, which have not yet been finalised, include an exhibition space or gallery and Brent Council’s will be commissioning an external organisation or group to run it.
A Brent Council spokesman said: “Brent Council will not be running any new exhibition space in the new cultural centre. Instead the council will be commissioning an external organisation or group to run the gallery or exhibition space in the new centre.
“There will be an open procurement process and we are encouraging Brent Artists’ Resource (BAR) to apply.
“Brent Council’s service level agreement with BAR, which included providing £4,000 of funding per annum, ended on March 31 this year. However, the local authority’s Ward Working Team has recently funded them to run free workshops for local residents to improve their creative skills through art, painting and drawing.”
Mr Belenguer has been selected to take part in The Other Art Fair in Marylebone, west London, for unrepresented artists and will concentrate on new projects.
n Joanna Steele, is Lorenzo’s successor, she has been running the Library Lab project in Brent.