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The rampART was a squatted social centre in the Whitechapel area of east London, England. It was established in a derelict building in Rampart Street which was previously used as an Islamic school for girls. The centre run as a private members club providing a space for a wide range of groups to carry out their activities. Like all such projects, it is managed by volunteers without any funding and with a strong emphasis on consensus decision making and DIY culture.
The centre was known variously known as the rampART social centre, the rampART creative centre and social space, or more commonly as rampART.
Developments at rampART
The rampART was open for five and a half years, hosting meetings, screenings, performances, exhibitions and benefit gigs. During that period the building and resources evolved to adapt to the demands of its users. In November 2007 property developers planned to partially demolish the squatted houses next to the social centre and build three new properties at the back. The rampART itself was under no immediate threat and regular activities continued as normal; however in December 2007 the centre received eviction papers. The date for eviction was set at 3 January 2008.
On 15 October 2009 rampART was evicted. 45 police officers, several bailiffs and a priest were present, and a chainsaw was used to enter the building. Climbers also used the roof as a means of access.
After the eviction, the collective, still named "the rampART collective", stayed together and temporarily moved to a new space in Walworth in South London where they continue to hold weekly meetings.
rampART was opened May 2004 and was located at 15-17 Rampart Street, London E1 2LA. The project was initiated by a mixture of artists, community groups and political activists. Within the first year, the building had hosted over 100 cultural and political events - placing the rampART firmly on the activist map of London.
The centre was run by an open collective as an autonomous space. It was open to all on the basis of equality for all. Projects were run on an entirely voluntary basis by the people involved. They are not charity workers or social workers. The projects were run in the spirit of co-operation, solidarity and mutual aid. It was not a commercial enterprise run for profit - instead it was funded day-to-day by donations given by the users, or by raising funds through benefit events such as gigs, cafés or film nights.
The rampART constitution states that:
The rampART is run collectively. Any one is free to get involved or make proposals relating to use of the space by come along to one of the weekly meetings which are held Mondays after 6pm. We attempt to make all major decisions relating use of the space by building a consensus, both out of a desire to avoid hierarchies and also in recognition that decisions are more likely to be carried out when decided by consensus.
Projects at rampART
- Amateur theatre, art installations, acoustic concerts
- Film nights every Thursday, poetry, photography exhibitions, political discussions and meetings
Skill sharing and workshops
- Samba, radio, juggling, banner making, computer training, screen printing
Resource exchange and other projects
- Free shop, info library, media lab, wireless Internet, kitchen / café. rampART has a library of donated books, as well as a BookCrossing zone.
Events at rampART
- The Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army held training sessions at the centre.
- During the Hugo Chávez referendum there was a week long ‘Venezuela Solidarity’ event.
- Conscious fashion week.
- A week-long series of talks, films, food and discussion about Africa.
- The festival for peace organised by the European Creative Forum and Peace Not War was accompanied by an afternoon of workshops at rampART.
- During the European Social Forum the rampART accommodated over 50 European visitors as well as laying on free food and a range of entertainment. Additionally, as one of the European Social Forum autonomous spaces, rampART hosted the Home Education Forum and acted as homebase for the European Creative Forum and the Laboratory of Insurrectional Imagination.
- Following the Anarchist Bookfair 2007 a fund raising party for No Borders was held at rampART.
- The UK Noborders Network held a gathering at rampART from 10–11 October 2009, 7 days before the eviction.
- Since the closure of The Other Cinema, Indymedia London has been using the rampART as a venue for a series of film festivals. These included 'Caminos De Resistencia' (Paths Of Resistance) and the Middle East Film Festival.
- There have been non-Indymedia organised festivals including 'Positive Global Movements', a week long exhibition of stories of resistance from around the world.
- Prior to its official debut, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 was premiered at the rampART on 4 July as part of an 'Independence FROM America’ themed evening.
- A documentary about the McLibel trial and a premiere of Super Size Me were shown.
- 491 Gallery, another squatted social centre in east London
- "ESF radio from rampart" written 14 October 2004, retrieved 7 June 2006.
- "Indian activist film festival" IMC UK written 15 January 2006, retrieved 7 June 2006.
- UK Indymedia - rampART on the defensive
- UK Indymedia - Developers make their move on Rampart Street
- UK Indymedia - Developments at rampART
- UK Indymedia - REBEL CLOWN TRAININGS BEGIN IN LONDON 4th APRIL
- UK Indymedia - Anarchist Bookfair 2007
- Official website
- The rampART mailing list
- Announcement of first opening
- rampART at the European Social Forum
- rampART hacklab