The Common House is closing – but this is not the end

We are closing the Common House’s space in Bethnal Green.

For some years already the space didn’t allow us to carry out the activities we/our members wanted as our building in Pundersons Gardens – a former factory owned by an east end property tycoon – turned from workshops/studios to mostly residential. Not being able to hold many evening events or parties took away our main source of income and led to us relying increasingly on membership and usage fees. Although we were able to top this up with donor funding we felt uncomfortable with adopting an NGO model for this radical grassroots project. Another model we considered was running a cafe (or even a brewery!) to generate income but looking at new spaces for rent in this ever-gentrifying city we realised there was no way we could gather the astronomical start-up capital, deposits and rents required for that, especially once we were running with only 3-4 people doing all of the work.

At the same time, with large funded organisations increasingly offering free meeting and event space in the neighbourhood to grassroots community and activist groups we realised that our model was broken. We are absolutely gutted therefore to be closing down the Common House physical space. We realise this leaves many of our smaller most marginalised groups who may not have access to, or feel comfortable in fancy foundation spaces – in the lurch. We are going to continue to do our utmost to continue to support each other in the best way we can. We are heartened by the continued thriving of our fellow radical social centres including LARC, Decentre and 56a, and the emergence of some awesome new squatted social centres such as the Black liberation squat House of Shango and the Central School of Trespass.

The closure of the Common House is the end of an era and we want to thank everyone who has helped imagine and build our common project over the years, since 2013, all of our member groups past, present and future and everyone who has enjoyed and benefited from the space. Thank you for making the Common House a site of resistance, creativity, comradeship and joy.

We are looking forward to continuing Common House’s political organising in a variety of other ways, including nomadic – using other spaces – and through online events, such as our ‘Skills for the Struggle’ skillshares, and our ‘Activist Cafe’ networking, which we did as part of the London and WISE Social Centres Network. We are going to work with MayDay Rooms to create an archive of 8 years of Common House activity. Siana Bangura, a filmmaker who has been a key member of the Common House has also offered to create a movie that celebrates and contextualises the many struggles, socials and creative events that have had their home in the Pundersons Gardens space.

We are going to be having a massive clearout of the current space on Sunday 21st November and you are all invited to come and join in this process.

Also, we’re having a party on Saturday 11 December to bring together and celebrate all the amazing groups and individuals who have brought their energy, wisdom and rage to the Common House over the years save the date and watch this space for further announcements!

To read more about the Common House and its illustrious history, see:

Members and supporters over the years have included:
Association of Black Humanists
Concrete Action
English for Action
Feminist Fightback
London Gender Support
Mental Health under Capitalism
Plan C London
Radical Education Forum
X-Talk Project
Phoenix Education
Radio Ava
Babel’s Blessing
Community Massage Project
Psychotherapy and Counselling Union
Autonomous Tech Fetish
No Fly on the Wall
Politics in Love, Sex and Relationships
Action East End
Anarchist Federation
Angry Workers World
The Riso Print Club
Sex Worker Open University
Precarious Workers Brigade
London Roots Collective
East London Radical Assembly
Femmes of Colour
In Sight Theatre
Fuel Poverty Action
London Renters Union
United Voices of the World
Take Back the City
Green and Black Cross
Neurodiversity Reading Group
And many more….