Charity workers in Croydon are worried that they have been caught in the cross-fire between the Fairfield Halls and the Town Hall in the bitter dispute over the arts venue’s future, with what ought to be one of the borough’s biggest fund-raising events of the year likely to miss its targets for good causes by tens of thousands of pounds.
Kevin Day, the Crystal Palace-supporting comedian, script-writer and Match of the Day 2 presenter, has spent more than a year working on producing Sunday night’s charity comedy night at the Fairfield Halls for the Mayor of Croydon’s nominated charities.
For 2015-2016, these are Mind in Croydon and London homelessness cause CAYSH.
Day has managed to compile an outstanding line-up of some of the country’s top stand-up acts, including Reginald D Hunter, Seann Walsh and Jon Richardson.
And Mark Steel.
But by lunchtime today, fewer than 400 seats in the 1,800-capacity Fairfield Halls main concert hall had been sold.
Charity workers and sources at the council have been suggesting that the management at the Halls have deliberately under-sold the event.
With seats costing £30 a time, that could end up seeing the charities miss out on raising more than £25,000 in unsold tickets.
“Kevin Day put this show together as he’s a long time supporter,” one charity worker told Inside Croydon, “and it has taken a couple of years and calling in a few favours on his part.
“Sadly we’ve had no support in selling tickets from Fairfield. The event isn’t even on their billboard outside the venue.”
Neither Kevin Day nor the Mayor of Croydon, Patricia Hay-Justice, were prepared to comment ahead of Sunday’s event.
But a Town Hall source did accuse the Fairfield Halls of behaving in an “unprofessional and petulant” manner earlier this week.
“That it has been allowed to happen at all demonstrates a failure of the senior management,” they said.
Croydon Council owns the Fairfield Halls, on behalf of local people, and leases it to Fairfield (Croydon) Ltd, which is run as a charity and operates the venue’s concert hall, Ashcroft Theatre and Arnhem Gallery.
The Halls is due to close in July for two years while a £30 million refurbishment, paid for by the council, is carried out on the 54-year-old arts venue. The closure will see around 150 staff made redundant, and has seen many staff lobby for a phased redevelopment, which would cost the local tax-payer an additional £5 million.
Last week, Kate Vennell, the chair of the Fairfield charity board, said, “The discussion about phasing is no longer a useful one.”
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