The government and Arts Council England yesterday handed out £257million to 1,385 arts and cultural venues and companies around the country. Five of the recipients are based in Croydon.
But not a penny of the Cultural Recovery Fund has been provided for the closed Fairfield Halls or any of the dance, music or theatre groups based there.
The council-owned Fairfield Halls only reopened in September 2019 after a three-year refurbishment programme, but was forced to close again at the end of March due to covid-19.
BHLive, who manage the venues for Croydon Council, say the Halls are in “hibernation” until 2021, though an exact date for covid-safe reopening has not been announced.
Since lockdown, BHLive has laid off most of Fairfield Halls’ staff and even returned the Halls’ pianos, breaking a sponsorship and hire agreement to save a few bob. Unlike other arts venues affected by coronavirus restrictions, no efforts have been made to stage income-generating live-streamed performances from the venue, nor for partial reopening of the performance spaces, bars and restaurants.
Of the Croydon-based arts groups which did apply for funding successfully to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England under the government’s £1.57billion Culture Recovery Fund, Aim High Dance Academy was granted £50,000, Parabolic Theatre for £51,850, Stanley Halls in South Norwood has received £74,098, Turf Projects got £79,917 and Studio Upstairs £50,000.
In total, that’s £305,865 for arts in Croydon. Other London boroughs, particularly those around the West End, received 40 or 50 separate grants amounting to several millions – in the case of the City of Westminster, a total of £12.6million.
According to the Arts Council, “In London, this investment will help save 428 galleries, performance groups, arts organisations, museums and local venues facing the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, to ensure they have a sustainable future and continue to bring joy to local communities and international audiences.”
Sir Nicholas Serota, the chair of Arts Council England, said: “Theatres, museums, galleries, dance companies and music venues bring joy to people and life to our cities, towns and villages. This life-changing funding will save thousands of cultural spaces loved by local communities and international audiences. Further funding is still to be announced and we are working hard to support our sector during these challenging times.”
The recipients announced yesterday are those that applied for grants of less than £1million in the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund. The Arts Council said that, “Applicants for grants of over £1million, as well as those who applied to Round Two of the fund and the Repayable Finance programme will be notified of their outcomes shortly.”
That may, of course, could include the Fairfield Halls. The Arts Council today refused to comment on whether they had received any application for the Halls, BHLive, Croydon Council or any of the companies based at the town centre venue.
As for Studio Upstairs, as might be expected, they welcomed their funding.
Studio Upstairs is an arts and health charity with 30 years of history supporting people with mental health needs within artistic therapeutic communities in London and Bristol.
They said, “The funding will help this unique organisation to survive the crisis and to continue to provide much-needed support to some of the most vulnerable people during the pandemic.”
Keith Miller, the chair of Studio Upstairs, said: “We are proud to be #HereForCulture by making sure safety measures are in place at all our studios.”
Croydon is London’s “Borough of Culture” in 2023.
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