Plans to renovate the derelict Savoy Cinema in the heart of Hackney into a £3m multi-arts centre have been given the green light. Village Underground, the organisation behind the effort to transform the Art Deco building into the Hackney Arts Centre (HAC) has announced the project now has the backing of a £1.9m investment from social investors Big Issue Invest, The Arts Impact Fund and Triodos Bank. The funding is core to securing the artistic and social objectives of the project.

The renovated HAC will deliver world class cultural events as a 2,500+ capacity multi-arts centre. Through a partnership with socially-driven arts charity Community Music, the centre will also host programming to engage children and young people from the borough of Hackney, particularly those who are socially excluded or disengaged from education and positive community participation.

Auro Foxcroft, Owner of Village Underground, said:"It's been a truly inspiring journey working with some of the UK's great social investors - Arts Impact Fund, Big Issue Invest and Triodos Bank. All three investors are passionate about the social impact of the Hackney Arts Centre and have been creative and bold in getting us this far. As a social enterprise, it's essential for us to have financial backing that understands our goals, and in this way these organisations have set us free to usher something into the world that would have otherwise not been possible."

Village Underground has established itself over the past 10 years as an eminent fixture in London's contemporary music scene. With demand for events and bookings outstripping its supply to host them, and the absence of an appropriate mid-scale music venue in East London, it has identified a site in Dalston that has the potential to be a second, bigger outpost. The former Savoy Cinema, built in 1936, but largely abandoned since the early 1980's, will be given a new lease of life as the HAC. 

Community Music has a 30-year track record improving young people's lives through music production and learning. The charity will benefit from extensive access to performance space, equipment and technical support from venue staff at no cost, giving young people immediate access to professional, real-world experience. The partnership will benefit 250 to 400 young people every year. Community Music already successfully deliver a range of similar programmes in Tower Hamlets.

Maricia Klincke, Director of Community Music, said:"We are really excited to be a part of such a landmark development in Dalston and welcome the support of the investors involved in the project to date. Over the past few years we have worked closely with the HAC team to ensure education, training and opportunities for the local community lie at the heart of this development. We are excited to see these plans come to fruition this year and begin building what we hope will be a great resource for the local community."

To support redevelopment, three well-known social investors have collaborated to provide £1.9m in funding, including:

  • £600,000 from Big Issue Invest
  • £600,000 from the Arts Impact Fund
  • £700,000 from Triodos Bank 

James Salmon, Investment Director at Big Issue Invest, said:"We are so pleased to support Village Underground in bringing to life the vision of the Hackney Arts Centre. We are confident Auro and his team will deliver an equally impressive venue in the heart of Dalston. We are particularly excited to see the development of the partnership with Community Music, a model we expect will set a fine example of how the music and arts sector can deliver social impact. We see a real positive role that financially self-sustaining socially minded arts organisations can play in this respect. It is fantastic that we have been able to provide support to Village Underground in order for them to continue to keep doing the incredible work they do."

Paul Nicoll, Senior Relationship Manager at Triodos Bank, said:"Triodos has a longstanding relationship with Village Underground, and we are constantly inspired by their sense of vision and sustainable growth. At Triodos, we know the arts and culture sector plays an important role in bringing communities together, and helping us look at societal challenges differently. In bringing together social and cultural goals, the Hackney Arts Centre is the kind of innovation that can be truly transformative."

Seva Phillips, Fund Manager, Arts Impact Fund, said:"A new live arts venue for East London. A partnership between Village Underground and Community Music to deliver a hands-on music education for young people. The coming together of impact-driven investors to support a project at the heart of the community. We're hugely excited to support Hackney Arts Centre for these reasons, not to mention developing the legacy of Village Underground as a pioneering force in the capital's cultural scene."

HAC will serve the local community in Hackney, giving space and world class cultural opportunities to people in the area. It is also planned HAC will be a springboard for the next generation of creative talent; local artists, thinkers and musicians will be able to get their message to a larger audience.

The main auditorium, which has laid largely unused since the mid-nineties, will be renovated with many of its original art deco features returned to their former glory. Two other areas which have been used as a bar and cafe until recently will be given a major overhaul to give Hackney a 21st century arts centre. The three distinct areas will allow the venue to be used for many day and night-time purposes from readings, comedy and debates, to larger theatre and music events. Similar to Village Underground, the space will be curated to span art forms and diverse genres and voices. There will also be a focus on experimental and innovative performance and art.


For more information please contact:

Ed Grattan
[email protected]

Ruth Law, Big Issue
T: 020 7526 3381
[email protected]

Notes to Editors
For details about Hackney Arts Centre, visit

About Triodos Bank 
Triodos Bank is a global pioneer in sustainable banking using the power of finance to invest in projects that are good for people and the planet. Triodos uses its €13.5 billion (2016) in assets to create social, environmental and cultural value in a transparent and sustainable way.

With UK operations based in Bristol, Triodos Bank has branches in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Germany and an agency in France. Globally, Triodos Bank has microfinance projects in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, and is a founding member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), a worldwide network of 43 banks seeking to transform finance into a vehicle of positive influence.

About Big Issue Invest: 
Big Issue Invest is the social investment arm of The Big Issue. We extend the mission of The Big Issue by providing finance and support to social enterprises and charities seeking to dismantle poverty and create opportunity for people across the UK.  We invest between £20K and £3 million in organisations seeking repayable financing options, helping them to scale up and maximise their social impact. Since 2005, we have invested more than £30 million in 300 social ventures and we currently manage or advise on more than £150 million worth of social funds.

About the Arts Impact Fund: 
The £7million Arts Impact Fund is a collaboration that brings together private, public and philanthropic investment and provides unsecured loan finance to arts organisations in England that can show social impact. The contributors to the Fund all share a commitment to supporting the arts and include: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Nesta, with support from Arts Council England and additional funding from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. / @artsimpactfund

Triodos Bank NV (incorporated under the laws of the Netherlands with limited liability, registered in England and Wales BR3012). Authorised by the Dutch Central Bank and subject to limited regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority. Details about the extent of our regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority are available from us on request.