Public meeting to discuss future of Fairfield Halls: Mar 21

Fairfield Halls side viewThe South Croydon Community Association is staging an open meeting on March 21 to discuss the future of the Fairfield Halls arts complex.

The meeting will take pace in St Michael’s Church Hall on Poplar Walk from 7pm.

“The meeting venue has been chosen because it is independent of any group with vested interests so it is a forum for open and free discussion by all stakeholders,” said the SCCA’s chair, Charlotte Davies.

“The aim of the meeting is to organise ourselves so that we can present a coherent vision to the management and trustees of Fairfield Halls and ensure that their programme more closely meets the needs of the community.”

Davies says that by bringing together many groups from across the borough it must also be possible to put together better bids for funding for the Fairfield Halls and other venues.

Those unable to attend but who have views and comments may email them to South Croydon Community Association at scca@btconnect.com. “We will collate the comments and suggestions from the meeting and provide feedback to all participants and interested parties,” Davies said.

Updates will be published on the SCCA website.

Davies outlines some principle areas that can be considered by the meeting:

  • What entertainment, if any, would people pay for?
  • How can the Fairfield Halls best serve Croydon?
  • How can the Fairfield Halls generate employment, especially for young people?
  • Can we create links between the Fairfield Halls and various community groups?
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5 Responses to Public meeting to discuss future of Fairfield Halls: Mar 21

  1. It seems to me that the Fairfield Halls receives substantial public funding, yet hosts mostly light-hearted mass-market entertainment. Surely it should be either a commercial entertainment venue, or subsidised to promote culture?

    • mraemiller says:

      Without the mass-market entertainment promoters I doubt the building would be as viable as it is… unfortunately you cant draw a straight line between entertainment and culture.

      Publish an obscure poetry magazine and the Arts Council will fall over themselves to bung you money to print it on, despite the fact you could publish the same content for free on the web. Promote a comedy night and they wouldn’t give you a bean.

      That said the larger promoters are clearly doing well out of having publicly maintained venues. Then again arts centres regularly ring up small promoters and say “do you want to put on a gig in our foyer/venue” we need something entertaining to get younger people in.

      So who’s actually doing who a favour there? Particularly when the cheque takes up to two months to actually find its way to the acts… I expect the reality is that with arts funding cut to the bone without entertainment promoters then many of these venues would be empty shells.

      Anyway, it’s not an either/or. Although in general culture is what the government wants you to see – entertainment is what people actually want …. a cliche yes, but that’s because it’s true.

  2. Browsing in the Central Library yesterday (Friday) I was intrigued to see a notice advertising the Mayor’s Charity Ball – a major bun-fight for those who see themselves as Croydon’s good and great. The tickets are £50 each and the venue is … Croydon Hilton Hotel.
    If the Mayor can’t be bothered to support Fairfield, why should anyone else do so?
    Or is the problem unrealistic catering and hall price demands?
    Or is it the quality of service on offer?
    Or is the Arnhem Gallery too small to cope with anticipated numbers?

  3. Contrary to popular belief, Fairfield Halls does not receive a huge amount of public funding.

    As well as being a regular customer of the venue, I also work regularly with them as lighting designer for the Ashcroft Theatre’s own and co-produced plays, so can see both sides of the story. From working in the industry I can safely say that only hugely popular forms of live entertainment in large venues are able to make profits – popular West End musicals, arenas with their huge pop acts, large popular music festivals etc. Venues and producers attempting to provide a mix of entertainments, or to produce anything remotely arty, count themselves lucky to break even – let alone make a profit!

    As far as I am aware from knowing the Fairfield technical staff etc, the charitable trust which runs the building only really receives funding from the council for the structure of the building and the (much-needed) repairs and maintenance required just to keep the place open. They don’t appear to get much funding for the day-to-day running of the building, and indeed the stretched venue technicians have not had a pay rise for several years now. Compare this to the huge wages and perks available to staff at places like the National Theatre and Royal Opera House, which are awash with funding (and unnecessary staff!)…

    Fairfield of course already works with community groups and has work experience placements and interns, and I hear are also looking at proper apprenticeships too.

    This makes me wonder – has the SCCA actually BEEN to Fairfield recently, checked the event diary or indeed even spoken to any staff there prior to organising this meeting?!

    • What would you regard as a “huge amount of public funding”, Rob?

      Only the Fairfield Halls receives something like £750,000 towards its operating costs each year from Croydon Council.

      Is that not a “huge” sum of cash?

      That’s the same Croydon Council that withdrew a modest £30,000 annual grant to the Warehouse Theatre, precipitating its closure.

      Oh, and the same Croydon Council which at next week’s budget meeting continues to have £26 million ear-marked for capital works at Fairfield Halls.

      By most normal standards, that is a huge amount of public subsidy.

      It is more than a little condescending to the South Croydon Community Association to suggest that they might not have visited the venue or be aware of its programme.

      Indeed, another local resident, David Callam, recently wrote extensively on the failings of the Fairfield as a venue that fails to provide the facilities for a profitable, modern arts venue as you allude to, while failing to deliver a better cultural offering than Anton du Beke, professional wrestling and occasional re-runs of West End show revivals.

      We recommend that you read David’s column here: http://insidecroydon.com/2013/01/31/failing-fairfield-halls-is-limping-along-on-borrowed-time/

      It is clear that as it stands, the Fairfield is not working. Surely, if local residents want to have a say in rectifying that situation, that can only be welcomed?

      Hopefully, you can go along to the meeting yourself.

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