Chelsea Arts Club
|The Chelsea Arts Club|
Chelsea Arts Club clubhouse
|Formation||21 March 1891|
|Headquarters||London, England, United Kingdom|
|Location||143 Old Church Street, London SW3 6EB|
The Chelsea Arts Club is a private members club located in London with a membership of over 2,400, including artists, poets, architects, writers, dancers, actors, musicians, photographers, and filmmakers. The club was established on 21 March 1891 (in Chelsea), as a rival to the older Arts Club in Mayfair, on the instigation of the artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler, who had been a (sometimes controversial) member of the older club.
During its primary season from September–June the Chelsea Arts Club serves as a host for many functions, from instrumental and choral performances to visual arts exhibitions, literary talks, and weekend artist lunches.
The club has a waiting list for new applicants, who have to be sponsored by current members. As of 2009, the membership subscription costs between £305 and £485 per year, with a £190 rate for younger members. The entrance fee is an additional £200.
The Chelsea Arts Club was originally located in rooms at no. 181 King's Road. In 1902, the club moved to larger premises at no. 143 Old Church Street. In 1933 the club's premises, which had an acre of garden, were remodeled. The clubhouse includes a snooker room, bedrooms, dining room, former 'ladies bar' turned private party room, and a garden.
From 1908 to 1958 the club held a series of public fancy dress balls at the Albert Hall, latterly on New Year's Eve, which raised funds for artists' charities, but they ceased owing to their notoriety and rowdiness, and private functions with lavish decorations and themes were held at the club instead.
In 1966 the club was redecorated, a new bar was opened, and membership was opened to women artists. Although normally a plain white building, the club exterior is occasionally painted to coincide with a themed event. In 2010 it was painted bright colours with images of circus performers affixed to the exterior, and in 2011 was painted to appear as if it had been bombed in order to coincide with celebrations marking 70 years since the end of The Blitz.
- Anthony Lejeune, Gentlemen's Clubs of London, London: Macdonald And Jane's, 1979 (ill. Malcolm Lewis). ISBN 0-8317-3800-6.
- Tom Cross, Artists and Bohemians: 100 Years with the Chelsea Arts Club, London: Quiller Press, 1992. ISBN 9781870948609.
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