Thursday, 13 June 2013

Independent Arts Body Needed For Croydon

An independent arts body for Croydon is the main recommendation arising from the South Croydon Community Association (SCCA) initiative to try and help improve the management and programming of the Fairfield Halls as the major cultural venue in the Borough. SCCA has now published ‘Croydon’s Arts Report’ arising out of the discussions it organised. Its main conclusions are:

·         An independent apolitical Arts body is urgently needed for the Borough of Croydon to set an Arts strategy, develop, enhance and promote Arts throughout the entire Borough, engaging with all faith groups and communities.
·         There are many smaller vibrant Arts communities and facilities in Croydon. At present there is no clear vision to help these groups prosper. Much can be achieved, without great expense, as follows: access funding beyond Croydon; share resources and facilities; promote their activities; recruit and train new members; work together to host shared activities; communicate the vibrancy of Croydon;  celebrate the diversity of Croydon; showcase their best work in festivals;
·         The chair of the proposed  independent
·         voluntary body needs to be a person of stature within the Arts, with trustees reflecting the diversity of Croydon.
·         The whole community needs to be served. As well as economic benefits, flourishing Arts help: children develop fully; everyone access a richer and more fulfilled life; sharing of culture and heritage so reducing fear of difference; improve social cohesion.
·         Political independence is essential for Fairfield Halls and the London Mozart Players.
·         The Boards of the Fairfield Halls and the London Mozart Players should be refreshed with some trustees of national standing.
·         Croydon Council should open up its parks, libraries and halls for Arts activities.

While I attended the two general discussion meetings organised by SCCA I did not take part in the smaller group that produced the report. The
proposals are very much in line with my suggestions in the discussion paper I wrote for the first meeting.

·         Community and voluntary sector organisations involved in cultural and heritage activities could consider developing their own Cultural & Heritage Strategy, designed to foster joint working, identifying sources of money, sustaining what exists, and forming the basis for demands on the Council in the future.

·         There a number of broader issues that need to be taken into account in preparing such a Strategy including the continuing recession, ‘spiritual’ capital, and community cohesion and diversity.

·         Taking advantage of new opportunities continue to emerge.

I stressed that the experience of Croydon piano teacher Fred Scott and  the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Festival last year showed how individuals and groups can help to ensure that Fairfield Halls can have  a varied programme of events, in Fred’s case with a particular emphasis on showcasing Croydon and South London young talent, and the Festival in celebrating a famous son of Croydon.

My other contributions to the discussions on Fairfield Halls and on heritage as an important part of cultural activity can be seen at

I asked the Scrutiny and Strategic Overview Committee on Tuesday night to add Cultural and Heritage Strategy to the list of topics it should be looking at.

This posting is also in my EDiary/News 40 available from me at

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