Free Word, an arts organisation that explores the power of words, is having to leave its London base in Clerkenwell, the Free Word Centre, following a decision by the company's main funder to sell the building.
The six companies the building currently houses are The Reading Agency, Article 19, Arvon, English PEN, Reporters without Borders and The Literary Consultancy. Some of its literary associates include Inpress, the National Centre for Writing, Spread the Word, BookTrust and the Alliance of Independent Authors. The residents will vacate the Clerkenwell building by 31st May.
Fritt Ord, a Norwegian private foundation that supports freedom of expression, confirmed its intention to sell the building, so would not renew the lease to Free Word. In a statement on Twitter, Free Word said the decision followed "a change of funding and investment priorities" in the foundation. Free Word has said it is currently in talks with Arts Council England, which has expressed interest in assisting the company with continuing its work.
Based in the former newsroom of the Guardian on Farringdon Road in London, the centre was set up in 2009 and features a lecture theatre, offices and a rehearsal and events space. The centre ran seminars, workshops, held meetings and performances and provided a venue for flexible working.
In a statement, TLC said its stafd are "hopeful that the ethos of Free Word, which has driven our own ethos and public programme, will live on in some way, and we remain in close contact with the Free Word team and our fellow residents: English PEN, the Reading Agency, Article 19, Arvon, and Reporters Without Borders. The Literary Consultancy continues to trade as normal, with the team continuing to work remotely and no services affected by the closure. From May 1st, our team will begin hybrid working, mixing home working with hot desking via our Hubble HQ membership, and will announce a new registered business address shortly."
Daniel Gorman, director of English PEN, a founding tenant of Free Word, said on Twitter that the news was "very sad" and that "so many vital projects have been developed by so many people and organisations there over the years. It will be hugely missed and I'm very hopeful they get support to continue their crucial work amplifying underrepresented voices."