Debate the future of arts in Croydon: Oct 10

The South Croydon Community Association is to stage a local arts debate at the Croydon Unitarian Church on October 10.

South Croydon Community Association“Croydon is London’s largest borough with the highest number of young people,” Charlotte Davies, SCCA chair, said. “Its demographic is similar to Leicester but whereas Leicester aims to be the UK’s City of Culture in 2017, Croydon lacks a coherent arts vision.”

The arts debate will start at 7pm, and will be chaired by Lord Harries, the former Bishop of Oxford, who has been selected “on the grounds that he is a person of standing who is independent of any Croydon interest groups”, Davies said.

The debate next month comes after community meetings earlier this year from which the SCCA produced a report which include among its recommendations the establishment of an independent body, possibly a charity, for arts in Croydon.

The debate will allow for presentations on the current state of the arts in Croydon, followed by a proposal to set-up an annual Croydon Arts Festival each July. “If you are interested in speaking, please register in advance so that a full list can be presented to the chair,” Davies said.

“Please email your name and organisation, if applicable. For ballot papers to be prepared, persons wishing to stand as a member of an arts festival steering committee are asked to send in their name, organisation, if applicable, political party, if any, and a brief personal statement no later than Tuesday October 1. All emails should be sent to

Meeting chairman: Lord Harries

Meeting chairman: Lord Harries

“The objective of an annual Arts Festival is to provide the basis from which a pan-Croydon strategic arts charity can be formed in order to bid for funds from charities and other agencies to develop arts in Croydon,” Davies said.

“Out of this evening, we hope to create a vision that will enable us, as a community, to develop a strong Arts culture throughout Croydon.”

Croydon Unitarian Church is at No1 The Croydon Flyover, CR0 1ER.

For more information, visit the South Croydon Community Association’s website.

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4 Responses to Debate the future of arts in Croydon: Oct 10

  1. It’s a great idea to debate the arts in Croydon. But any conclusion will need to encompass radical ideas if it is to be credible in the present economic climate.
    Beware glib promises from politicians, whatever their philosophy: even if they win next year’s local election they will have no more money to spend than the present administration.
    So the question to ask is: what will you cut in order to make extra money available for the arts? Expect a lot of circumlocution by way of reply and study it carefully to see whether it amounts to a hill of beans.
    Above all, be careful of anyone who offers a blanket solution that includes Fairfield: those days have gone. By all means commission some market research, but be prepared for it to confirm the need for more modest performance spaces in future.
    If public subsidies were available from arts organisations outside the borough, I assume larger am-dram groups – like CODA – would already be accessing cash.
    I also assume that if there were national or regional arts grants to be had, the Fairfield programme would not be so dire.
    Take note of plans from the Old Joint Stock Theatre of Birmingham, as published by Inside Croydon: this well-regarded professional company believes it can fill about 250 seats a month. Why would a local amateur group be able to garner any more support?
    In your heart of hearts, thespians, you know what you need: The Braithwaite Hall, or similar, with racked seating and a good sound and lighting rig, where you can create a regular programme of small-scale productions and develop a following that may, in time, allow you to hire a larger performance space with a chance to cover your costs.
    I look forward to reading a full report of the debate.

    • Lewis White says:

      David Callam’s posting above, and indeed, the debate being organised by Charlotte Davies, makes one realise that there has been no proper forum in
      which to discuss the way forward for the Arts in central Croydon.

      Speaking as a nearly-60 something, I recall the heyday of the Fairfield, when it hosted not only the major orchestras, and major Groups, and
      performers like Segovia, but also the Mick Mc Manus et al wrestling evenings. Johnny Czeslaw–Tibor Tsakas–the names alone were fantastic.
      The performances just added to the effect. Could one forget Adrian Street and the Blond bombshells?. All great stuff–as were the major
      groups and orchestras.

      There is always an temptation to veer towards the high brow, and forget that tribute bands are enjoyed by many!. We must ensure that we have a
      venue with the flexibility to stage large performances, whether All-Star wrestling, or the Liverpool Phil. . Or should we ?. Do we know how full
      the Fairfield is when for example, the Mozart Players play. Is there ever a sell out?.

      Someone I know-for whom I have great deal of respect–suggested that the lovely English art deco SEGAS building could be converted to a more
      appropriately-sized concert hall, and the Fairfield site redeveloped for housing. I hadn’t thought of this, and wonder what the scenario would
      be like. We also have the disused pumping station off Surrey Street–a unique Moorish style building that surely could be a concert venue.

      Why not move the Brit School into Croydon town centre–we could all then see the young performers doing their amazing stuff. All these
      possibilities need to be debated….and costed. Then, the people of Croydon could decide the future of arts in Croydon. And that means
      deciding the scope for performances by Mick Mc Mannus’s successors too.

  2. A wonderful idea, I wish it every success. And perhaps –

    ‘An over arching aesthetic cognisance allowing figure and form to perform an endless pas de deux that will dazzle and delight the populace for years to come.’

    Let us all hope.

  3. Our Arts report begins with the statement:
    “An independent apolitical arts body is urgently needed for the Borough of Croydon – to set an arts strategy, develop, enhance and promote arts throughout the entire borough, engaging with all faith groups and communities.”

    All civilisations come together to share their culture, SCCA was formed after the 2011 riots and an overwhelming desire to create “one Croydon” of which we all are proud and have a role to play.

    The arts are too important to be left to politicians; please come together to build a new Arts body for Croydon – we need a really strong central committee with talented people who can work at a aational level.

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