The UK government has given over £350,00 to two organisations owned by multi-billion pound co-living company The Collective, VICE News has found.
Peckham Levels and POP Brixton both received money through the government’s Culture Recovery Fund, a scheme created to provide financial support for cultural organisations that were at risk of failure due to the pandemic.
POP Brixton, a shipping-container structure with food stalls, event, retail and office space in south London, received £220,385. Peckham Levels, a converted multi-storey car park also in south London that hosts food businesses, bars, office space and artist studios, received £131,998.
Both companies are owned by urban regeneration company Make Shift, which is majority-owned by The Collective – a luxury co-living company with a combined property portfolio of £2.7 billion. Founded in 2010, The Collective owns two co-living spaces in London and one in New York. Rent for an ensuite room with a shared kitchen in one of the London buildings starts at £1,083 a month, and increases to £2,817 for a 30-square-metre studio room.
The Peckham Levels and POP Brixton developments are leased for negligible rent on public land as part of an agreement with Southwark and Lambeth councils. However, both have been criticised for failing to serve their local communities. A 2019 investigation by VICE found that 72 percent of Peckham Levels members were white, despite the company’s commitment to diversity. Its promise to require all members to complete community outreach hours was also largely unfulfilled.
A separate VICE report found that between April and July 2019, the majority of businesses in POP Brixton were white-owned.
A spokesperson for Make Shift told VICE News: “Arts Council England (ACE) created the Culture Recovery Fund in order to enable cultural organisations, such as ours which have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis to stay afloat, providing support over a six-month period.”
“Due to lengthy closures from lockdown and continued restrictions when we were permitted to open again, both sites continue to be impacted both operationally and financially. The Culture Recovery Fund from ACE will support both sites to critically maintain stability and allow our members to continue to operate over the coming winter months, as regulations allow.”
VICE News approached The Collective for comment, but had not received a response at the time of publishing.