CROYDON COMMENTARY: Could Brit Awards-winner Stormzy help to save the Fairfield Halls? Following Inside Croydon’s exclusive news report yesterday that Neil Chandler, the venue’s artistic director, had quit amid growing concerns about poor audiences in the first six months since the £42.6million makeover of the venue, PHIL WORSFOLD, right, offers some sound advice
Honestly, it is not rocket science.
If the Fairfield Halls, after its three-year, multi-million-pound refurbishment wants to attract large audiences, they need to put on well-marketed, quality acts, by relevant artists, groups and events. Then people will come.
If people want to go to an event, parking is totally irrelevant.
So far, since the Fairfield Halls’ reopening last September, there has not been one show that we would want to pay money to see which, quite frankly, is absurd.
We have money to spend, but the offer to date has been terrible. Who is in charge of bookings?
The guy who has just left does not sound like a cutting-edge London venue manager. Didn’t he work on cruise ships? Enough said (apologies if you enjoy cruise holidays).
Croydon Council and BHLive, who operate the venue on behalf of the council, need to understand what people want, and it is not what has been served up to date.
Have we had one major current recording artist or group perform at the Halls since it reopened? I think the answer to this is no, and where are the up-and-coming breakthrough artists? Croydon has some cutting-edge artists making an impact on the world – Stormzy was going down a storm, again, at the Brits last night – so why hasn’t one of them been convinced to perform at the Fairfield Halls?
Croydon council have in the past, proclaimed a vision that they want Croydon to be like Nashville, a real “music town”. I literally laughed out loud when I read this. Has anybody from the council actually been to Nashville?
If this is truly their ambition, then for goodness sake get the Halls sorted out and make them relevant. Maybe look at the Brighton Dome, The Hideaway, The Jazz Cafe, Indigo at the O2 , The Brixton Academy, Omeara, The Hackney Empire… there are so many others for inspiration.
There are a group of local creatives that, if given the chance, could make the Fairfield Halls a happening and relevant venue. At the moment the offer literally feels like it is one that you might expect at an out-of-season seaside town venue. Croydon deserves better. I am sure BHLive are trying their best but the Fairfield Halls needs to be competing with London, not Bournemouth. The lack of ticket sales is not down to a lack of trust, that is a ridiculous suggestion: it is about a poor, out-of-touch offer.
Somebody needs to get the creative brains in Croydon to steer this amazing opportunity in the right direction, and sooner rather than later. BHLive, Croydon Council… are you listening? So far you have screwed up and unless you take action now, the boost that we have just received from being selected to be the Borough of Culture in 2023 could turn into a fiasco.
Just to add icing to the cake, there is an access issue at the Halls that makes it difficult for acts’ equipment to be unloaded. If this is true, then sack the person responsible and get someone to sort it out. This is a farcical situation. Who has ever heard over a major music venue that makes it impossible for acts to access it easily, especially when the venue has just been refurbished? It is madness and totally irresponsible.
Back to the Brits, and Stormzy’s just won best male artist… Book him Dano! (a joke wasted on anybody under 35, I know…).
- We went to the Fairfield. It will be a while before we go again
- Unfinished and incomplete: where’s Fairfield £41m been spent?
- ‘I paid £45 to see Dame Judi, and this is the view I had’
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