ICA Becomes U.K.’s First Major Arts, Film and Theater Venue to Close Doors

Pictures: Willem Dafoe and Robert PattinsonEric
Eric Chakeen/A24

The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) has become the first major arts, theater and cinema venue to close its doors in the U.K. as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The ICA said today that it would close all its exhibition spaces, as well as its cinema, theater, bookstore and canteen to visitors and staff until further notice.

Most U.K. cinemas and theaters remain open for business, saying they are following advice from the government, which has not yet ruled that they should close. By contrast, many European countries have ordered theaters and cinemas to shut in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.

Announcing the closure, Stefan Kalmár, director of the ICA, hit out at the U.K. government for not taking action sooner to ban large gatherings: “Today I decided, together with the senior management-team and Wolfgang Tillmans, chair of the ICA, that it is in the best interests of our staff and the ICA community to temporarily close.

“As a civic-minded public organization, for us, the medical and scientific evidence leaves no doubt that the Covid-19 spread can be slowed down, lives saved if all larger gatherings are suspended. By doing so, the ICA pre-empts what we hope will eventually be the decision for all cultural organizations in London and the U.K. in order to safeguard our staff, our visitors, and the artists with whom we work. We will continue to review the situation daily and hope we can resume our program as soon as possible. All ICA staff will work from home and continue to be paid.

“In the meantime, our thoughts go out to all those whose health is impacted here in London, across the U.K., Europe and the world.”

Films playing at the ICA this week include Robert Eggers’ acclaimed “The Lighthouse.”