Croydon leads the way (part 2) – worst arts cuts in London

Fairfield Halls: £27m grant from council that cannot fund any arts programmes

That bastion of left-wing, politically biased reporting, The Stage, has flagged up how Croydon Council is in the vanguard again. This time, Croydon’s councillors have cast themselves as the biggest Philistines in London by cutting almost the whole of the borough’s relatively modest arts budget.

The facts and figures of the arts cuts have been reported by Inside Croydon before. The council wants to close down the Clocktower and David Lean Cinema, and it is scrapping the summer music festival.

Also under threat of closure is the Croydon Museum, although the council is not so keen on repaying the thick end of a £1 million Lottery grant they received not so long ago for the purpose of managing and maintaining a museum that is actually open to the public.

Now the personal cost of our council’s “penny wise/pound foolish” approach is beginning to emerge. According to The Stage, “Croydon Council intends to make six members of its arts team redundant, leaving just one officer.”

The acting profession’s in-house paper continues: “Croydon Council is planning to cut the majority of its £650,000 annual arts service budget this year… However, Croydon has pledged to award £27 million funding to Fairfield Halls before 2016 for capital works.”

Here at Inside Croydon, we are firm supporters of the Fairfield Halls. But we believe that it deserves consideration as a regional arts centre, and ought to receive funding from neighbouring boroughs and the London Arts Council.

A parliamentary question tabled by Gavin Barwell last week revealed that Croydon gets just 0.1 per cent of Arts Council London spend. As Barwell said, the London Arts Council’s “Zone 1 mindset needs to change quickly”.

We also find Croydon Council’s position to be entirely inconsistent: while it cannot fund even £600,000 a year to a range of arts projects in the borough, it is able to find more than £5 million a year towards a refurbishment of the Fairfield Halls.

We are quite sure that this has nothing to do whatsoever with the fact that the well-known local Conservative party donor, and deputy leader of the Croydon Tory group, Councillor Dudley Mead, happens to be on the management board of the Fairfield Halls.

#thatissocroydon

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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