EXCLUSIVE: A £42.6m white elephant without its mahout? Our arts correspondent, BELLA BARTOCK, reports on the most dramatic of exits from the Fairfield Halls
Neil Chandler has left the building.
The Fairfield Halls’ venue and artistic director has left his job, less than six months since the Croydon Council-owned arts centre re-opened after lengthy delays and multi-million-pound costs over-runs.
Chandler’s departure also comes within a week of London Mayor Sadiq Khan naming Croydon as his “Borough of Culture” for 2023.
Indeed, it was only last week when Chandler, the former cruise ship entertainments manager, was explaining to a Town Hall committee of councillors how having to manage five cancelled re-opening dates – including one royal gala performance – and still get the venue ready for the public following the £42.6million refurbishment had been “challenging”, and that a “lack of trust” with the public had seen initial ticket sales at a troubling 26 per cent.
Chandler gave no indication at that council scrutiny meeting of any intention to leave the on-going task at the Fairfield Halls, a job he was hired for by the council’s venue operators, BH Live, in November 2017. Continue reading