Ted Craig, the director of the Warehouse Theatre at East Croydon which was forced to close two years ago, has warmly welcomed the news, reported by Inside Croydon, that Ruskin Square developers Stanhope are keen to stand by their pledge to build a replacement for the world-famous studio theatre.
And the Labour council’s new arts and culture spokesman, Timothy Godfrey, has spoken of his own “commitment” to the Warehouse Theatre.
Craig told Inside Croydon this week: “Staff of the Warehouse Theatre worked with the developers Stanhope in developing the designs for a new theatre over a 10-year period, and the plans are very exciting.
“They have never been shown to the public because we were waiting for a ‘go’ on the Ruskin Square development first.”
After the Warehouse closed in 2012 – when the then Tory-controlled Croydon Council prompted its demise by withdrawing its annual grant at short-notice – a £3 million grant ear-marked for building a new theatre within the office developments in Ruskin Square to replace the Victorian warehouse was thought to have been “transferred” by the council for use at the Fairfield Halls.
But sources at Stanhope have indicated that if the grant funds are made available, they will hold good to their promise of a purpose-built, 200-seat studio-style venue, which could stage drama, comedy, music and cabaret, right next to East Croydon Station. Small drama groups and high-standard amateur dramatic societies have been priced out of using the Fairfield Halls, and with Sutton having announced plans to close the Charles Cryer Theatre in Carshalton, a mid-sized theatrical venue could be in great demand in this part of south London.
Since the Warehouse Theatre closed, Craig has been operating Warehouse Phoenix “to carry on the work and traditions of the Warehouse Theatre”, including staging its international play-writing competition each year.
At Monday’s council cabinet meeting, Godfrey unveiled the latest plans for a “Cultural Quarter”, which involves at least £34 million of spending to revitalise the Fairfield Halls. There was no mention of Ruskin Square – just across George Street from College Green and the Cultural Quarter – in the report.
But Godfrey told iC: “No one should doubt my commitment to filling the space left by the demise of the official Warehouse Theatre Company.”
According to Godfrey, the £3 million Stanhope grant was promised as part of a Section 106 social benefit planning agreement, and will not be payable until 500,000 sq ft of office space has been occupied – which could still be some way off. Godfrey believes that the grant may also be index linked.
Craig has fresh hope for the future of his theatre company: “We’re thrilled (and relieved) that a Cultural Quarter and much-needed work planned for Fairfield is being so strongly promoted by the new cabinet member for the arts, Timothy Godfrey.
“We haven’t stopped working on a future for Phoenix this last year or so, we continue to produce each year the International Playwriting Festival, as you know, and we have been tirelessly searching for new partners to join us and help make a new building a buzzing, exciting place.”
Coming to Croydon
- The Complete History of the BBC – Abridged, Spread Eagle, Sep 19-20
- South Croydon business breakfast, Sep 20
- Croydon Honey Show, Selsdon, Sep 20
- St Peter’s Church Book Sale, South Croydon, Sep 20
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Sep 20
- Music At The Unit, Lives Not Knives, Centrale, Sep 20
- Open House London weekend, Sep 20-21
- David Lean Cinema: A Night At The Cinema in 1914, Sep 22
- Activity to Work back-to-work workshops, Sep 23
- David Lean Cinema: Jimmy’s Hall, Sep 25
- Streatham Common 6M race, Sep 27
- Fancy dress family funday, Sep 28
- Ukrainian choir concert, St John’s Shirley, Sep 29
- Tree Sides, Spread Eagle Theatre, Oct 2-4
- The Goon Show, Spread Eagle Theatre, Oct 8-11
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Oct 18
- South Croydon business breakfast, Oct 18
- Croydon 10km road race, Oct 19
- This Was The World and I Was King, Spread Eagle, Oct 23-25
- Albert Einstein – Relativity Speaking, Spread Eagle, Nov 12-15
- South Croydon business breakfast, Nov 15
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
- Choose Your Own Documentary, Spread Eagle Theatre, Nov 21-22
- The Last Sense of Sudden, Spread Eagle Theatre, Nov 27-29
- Ghost Stories for Christmas, Spread Eagle Theatre, Dec 3
- Fog Horn Funnies, Spread Eagle Theatre, Dec 6
- South Croydon business breakfast, Dec 13
- South Croydon business breakfast, Jan 24
Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough: 407,847 page views (Jan-Jun 2014) If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at firstname.lastname@example.org