92% say council should stop Arnhem Gallery name change

Even long-standing council staff have been outspoken about the proposals to change the Arnhem Gallery’s name. “Who comes up with this twaddle?” they said, as our arts correspondent, BELLA BARTOCK, reports

Nine out of 10 responders to an Inside Croydon poll which has been running since the weekend say that Croydon Council should not allow the Arnhem Gallery’s name to be changed when the Fairfield Halls reopen, some time next year.

The Arnhem Gallery has been demolished as part of the £30m refurbishment of the Fairfield Halls

The Arnhem Gallery has been so named since the Fairfield Halls opened in 1962, providing a permanent reminder of the ties between Croydon and the Dutch city, which began shortly after the end of World War II and continue today.

But as Inside Croydon revealed last week, the Halls’ new operators, BHLive, want to rename the rebuilt Arnhem Gallery as “the Croydon Rec”, as they turn it into a roller skating rink and live music venue, and with the potential to sell the naming rights to a blue-chip brand, such as O2.

Even as recently as January this year, Neil Chandler, BHLive’s venue manager, was still referring to the Arnhem Gallery by name, as part of the live music offer for the Fairfield Halls after the completion of the council-funded £30million refurbishment. It would, Chandler suggested, offer competition for the musical tastes currently served by council-subsidised Boozepark.

Chandler made no mention of the “Croydon Rec” at that time.

Nor has the council made any public announcement of this change of name for the Arnhem Gallery, which only came to light during private tours of the Halls arranged for a group of businesses.

According to some recent visitors to the Halls, BHLive wants to maintain some connection with the borough’s heritage and the links with Arnhem by naming the Fairfield’s lobby as “the Arnhem Lobby”.

“They might as well call the public lavatories ‘The Arnhem Toilets’,” one unimpressed resident said.

One council employee described it by saying: “The operator is prepared to airbrush the heritage away with no resistance from the council.”

The move to rename the Arnhem Gallery has also been described by Inside Croydon’s loyal reader as “terrible”, “elitist” and “divisive”.

By 4pm today, after the (entirely unscientific) opinion poll had been running on this website for five days, 92 per cent of respondents said that Croydon Council should not allow the Arnhem Gallery name to be changed.

A senior council figure, who asked not to be named, called the move “crass cultural vandalism”.

And even long-standing council staff have been so dismayed by the suggestion that they have been openly very critical of the proposal.

“How can the new space [in the] former Arnhem Gallery be renamed The Croydon Recreation?” Andrew Dickinson, a middle manager working at Fisher’s Folly, tweeted from his personal account. “What an awful name. Makes me think of a park. “Who comes up with this twaddle? I hope we haven’t paid consultants for that suggestion.”

“It’s just an unimaginative and bad choice for this prestigious venue,” the council employee wrote, somewhat bravely.

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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
This entry was posted in Arnhem Gallery, Art, BH Live, Fairfield Halls, Neil Chandler and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to 92% say council should stop Arnhem Gallery name change

  1. mikebweb says:

    How many Croydonians remember our long association with 10th Bn The Parachute Regiment latterly based in Mitcham Road Barracks.

    We must KEEP out sense of History and remember the past – Oh! for those who dont know that was WW2 when our nation was under threat from abroad!

  2. George Wright says:

    My thoughts exactly mikebweb. Nearly 1,200 young men in the 1st Parachute Regiment were either killed in action or died from their wounds and nearly 6,000 were taken prisoner at Arnhem in 1944. They made this sacrifice in the belief they could shorten the war. How dare the Council and a bunch of speculators take that name away from what is a public amenity! They should be ashamed of themselves. I presume some of the same Councillors who are the Croydon Wreckers, those who tear down historic properties for tower blocks only the rich can afford, are also the Croydon Rec idiots. How can we get away from this from this elected dictatorship and actually get represented by Councillors who listen to public opinion?

  3. croydonite says:

    This is a not a story. What was the Arnhem Gallery is going to become a music venue (amongst other things) and the (very) large foyer area is maintaining the Arnhem name which is much more appropriate as it will be a community / family area with lots of free events. There is no whitewashing going on here. This is utter rubbish.

  4. Fiona Satiro says:

    At the open house tour Neil said the foyer would be renamed the Arnhem Foyer…

  5. You’d have to be pretty naive not to realise offering a foyer (definition “an entrance hall or other open area in a building used by the public, especially a hotel or theatre”) with the crumb of a former, valued, public name and hiving off The Gallery (“An institution, building or room for the exhibition and conservation of works of art”) is a privatisation of what was public space for commercial enterprises.

    Ok, the Fairfield Hall redevelopment was expensive but none of us expected that trashy concerts and roller skating would be the price to pay. If that is needed in Croydon, there is empty space on the Purley Way.

    The whole idea of the Halls was as a concert, theatre and music venue, so why can’t they leave the Arnhem Gallery alone instead of pushing the public into a noisy, drafty entrance hall?

    There are poetry, art and older people’s ventures that are crying out for free, private space that the Council no longer provides and sessions in the Arnhem Gallery space would be valued.

  6. Croydon Wreck? (Excuse my spelling). This could turn into an embarrassing joke.

  7. greencroydon says:

    This is also representative of a wider issue in that people who are not from Croydon, don’t live here, don’t partake in our daily life and really at the end of the day don’t CARE about Croydon, other than their specific project/development are getting carte blanche to airbrush, slowly but surely, our heritage, history, points of interest, long-standing relationships,quirks, so we end up a town of blandness. It goes on behind our backs and we just have to suck it up. Decision makers who don’t know the holistic picture. Clock in and clock off. To give an example: across the road where we had the Blue Orchid nightclub and Greyhound pub, which was a well known live music venue. Here’s a chance with a new developer to make something interesting there as a live music venue/recording studio/radio station venue. It could celebrate all the heritage of that space with vintage posters and vox pops and memorabilia. It would be part of that cultural zone and offer an alternative to the offering in the halls. But no. Guess what will go in that space? Retail, yes retail. As if there isn’t enough of it already and at some stage even more. All opportunity of a heritage-inspired facility gone. But I digress. Remove the name Arnhem from the halls and you might as well remove the war memorial from outside the town hall. For me it’s that bad. As a kid being taught in history lessons why we had this association made me a proud resident. It should be taught to all Croydon children. Civic pride and the lack of it nationwide gives us so many problems. But I digress. The ill feeling created by the loss of and non replacement of the Warehouse Theatre still resonates with a lot of people and although not the same, this opens up old wounds of how we get mugged over.

  8. Looks like a lot of mini-Neros have entered the arena! Wonder who organised this!?

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