A Strong Voice for Croydon Central - Gavin Barwell MP
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Lobbying the Arts Council for more funding for Croydon
14/06/2011 11:28:00

This morning, Malcolm Wicks, the Member of Parliament for Croydon North, and I met with Veronica Wadley, Cate Canniffe and Dominic Fyfe from the Arts Council to lobby for funding for the London Mozart Players/Fairfield Halls and the Warehouse Theatre in particular and for the arts in Croydon in general (although Malcolm and I disagree on some issues, it clearly makes sense to work together on the things we do agree about).

As I have previously posted, between 1st April and 1st December 2010 London as a whole received £191.4 million from the Arts Council. Out of that, Croydon got a paltry £210,000 - just 0.1% of the total when we make up nearly 4.5% of London's population.

Overall, it was a reasonably encouraging meeting. They acknowledged that “not enough” of their funding went to outer London. They also said they would have liked to have received more bids from Croydon (apparently they only received three bids, far fewer than from some other boroughs).

Although they have made their decisions about the national portfolio, which is funded by Government, there are other programmes which are Lottery-funded which are still up for grabs and which they felt organisations like the London Mozart Players and the Fairfield Halls were well placed to bid for (they were particularly positive about the Fairfield Halls, which they referred to as “a jewel in London’s crown”). They specifically mentioned the Grants for Arts programme and their plans for strategic funds to support capital works, touring in those parts of the country not well served by national portfolio organisations and audience development. They also mentioned two non-Arts Council funds, Orchestras Live and the Mayor’s Outer London Fund.

They were keen to work with the Council to develop a joint plan. They were obviously disappointed by the Council's decision to close the Clocktower but they acknowledged that recently it has taken more positive decisions in relation to funding for the London Mozart Players and the Fairfield Halls.

I hope the Council will respond warmly to this offer and support organisations like the London Mozart Players, the Fairfield Halls and the Warehouse Theatre as well as community organisations like Apsara Arts in making future bids. If they do, Malcolm and I will continue to pursue the Arts Council to turn their warm words into hard cash.

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Readers' Comments

On 29/06/2011 11:04:00 Anthony Miller wrote:
With regards to the closing of the David Lean Cinema – what exactly are the alternative plans … and how much is closing it actually saving …?

The thing I don't get is if the David Lean was selling 35,000 tickets a year then, despite the bad marketing and a website so complicated even Alan Turing couldn’t understand it, it had on average 38 punters a screening - not actually that bad. The cinema must have been turning over £210,000 in ticket sales yet when one reads the council consultation document which (like all proposals submitted to President Schwarzenegger in the Simpsons Movie ) consists of 5 unthinkable options, the difference between option 1 (saving of £150,000) and option 2 (saving of £765,000) is essentially the closing of the David Lean Cinema. So according to the Council consultation running the David Lean Cinema cost the public £615,000... ? How? Who was running it Erich von Stroheim….?

How come other art house cinemas with similar turnovers make a profit but the David Lean runs as such a substantial loss? What other costs are factored into this extremely large figure?

With the closing of the Braithwaite Hall ... what is the point of the Clocktower?

The Library could easily be re-housed somewhere less glamorous? Is it true the rumour that the Council's financial saving plans basically consisted of selling off the Clocktower as a commercial letting to raise money? And that the purpose of closing the Braithwaite Hall and the David Lean cinema is simply to run down the facilities one at a time in the hope no one notices the Clocktower gradually transmuting into either office space or yet another shopping complex?

As described in options 3 and 4 ... savings in closing the clocktower are approx £1,400,000. Is selling the facility factored into this? Since Croydon Council has now discovered it can’t close the museum at the moment without giving £1,000,000 back to central government......what is the point of closing the David Lean if the Clocktower is to remain open anyway? And what is the point of keeping the Clocktower open if it runs no arts events anyway – surely the Library could be rehoused in a less glamorous part of Croydon? Perhaps you could look into rehousing the David Lean in say the old Cinatra’s nightclub or the Cartoon / the Club that Mr Goldfinger keeps having closed all the time by the council…?

Can anyone deny that the Council is in talks with commercial developers to sell off the Clocktower facility…? And how was the consultation in anyway useful when it seems to contain such strange statistics?

On 30/06/2011 14:43:00 Adrian Winchester wrote:
Very interesting to read that the Arts Council: "were keen to work with the Council to develop a joint plan. They were obviously disappointed by the Council's decision to close the Clocktower..." This seems to support my view that the Clocktower arts closures were made with indecent haste following a consultation that allowed no real scope for debate or constructive proposals. As the David Lean Cinema and Braithwaite Hall were closed less than two months before your meeting, surely you and Mr Wicks would have been in a stronger position if the Council had allowed scope for these to be incorporated into any joint plan, rather than creating the impression that they can't wait to cut everything arts-related other than the Fairfield?



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