Croydon’s burgeoning culture scene is in for a boost with new plans to develop its events programme, rejuvenate its libraries and enhance its museum, alongside the £30million revamp of the Fairfield Halls.
With major festivals like Croydon International Mela, Pride and Dance Umbrella becoming fixtures on the borough’s cultural calendar, a cabinet report has outlined plans to keep up the momentum on Croydon’s renaissance.
Croydon’s programme will continue to develop and include major projects around Fairfield Halls reopening, as well as animating public spaces and places with cultural activity from open-air theatre, live music and dance to street art and installations.
The council has also announced new plans to put the Museum of Croydon back on the map by applying for reaccreditation, which would give the museum increased access to funding and development opportunities. As part of this drive, the council will set up a new collections trust to oversee acquisitions and disposal and protect the museum’s treasures for generations to come.
The council is also planning for the future of Croydon’s 13 libraries, having taken swift action to protect the service earlier this year, bringing it back in house after the collapse of Carillion. A libraries strategy is now being developed to place Croydon’s libraries at the cutting edge of provision, as high-quality cultural hubs that benefit the whole community.
Meanwhile Croydon Council’s £30million refurbishment of Fairfield Halls is progressing at pace with plans for a phased opening from the end of the year. With the demolition of the Arnhem Gallery nearly complete and the interior completely stripped back, the building has undergone significant change in recent months.
The council has been working in close partnership with the company that will run the new Fairfield Halls, BH Live, and Vinci, the contractors undertaking the works, to build on and improve the original plans from the design team, in particular to hospitality, bars, public spaces and kitchens, technical facilities and back of house.
The location of the new art gallery has been shifted to allow for exhibition space at ground floor level as well as underground, and the entrance has been moved out of the new ‘glass box’, creating a more attractive restaurant area. The foyer area will be much more open, creating space for people to mingle and use the venue at all hours of the day.
The Ashcroft Theatre will also see significant changes with additional seating to over 800. The canopy will be removed creating a more contemporary, stripped back, studio feel.
There will be an increasing range of opportunities for people to see the new spaces from the end of this year, with Fairfield Halls building gradually to full scale operation by early 2019. In the meantime, fans can follow the story on the Fairfield Halls and watch the regular ‘behind the curtain’ films with the new venue director Neil Chandler on the Fairfield Halls Facebook and Twitter feeds.
“Fairfield Halls is very much at the heart of our new cultural programme, but it is only part of a much bigger picture. From the programme of events we are developing in venues and public spaces across the borough, to our plans to revitalise libraries in every part of the borough.
“A significant step is our plan to protect our valuable museum collections and archives for future generations from ever being sold off. This will be achieved through establishing an independent ‘collections trust’.
“We are laying the foundations for Croydon to continue evolving as a unique and vibrant cultural hub for London”
Councillor Timothy Godfrey, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport