The Bernard Wetherill House community space rooms were packed with about 90 people, including Council officers acting as facilitators, sitting around tables last night for the lively culture seminar organised by Councillors Timothy Godfrey and Oliver Lewis. Those attending represented a wide spectrum of people involved in different aspects of cultural activities in the Borough.
In his brief introduction Godfrey reported that the new Labour administration has decided:
- that it will not sell items from any of the Council’s collections, but will preserve, protect and seek to expand them
- on a four year commitment to take part in London Open House to highlight the best architecture in the Borough
- on changes to the renovation of Fairfield Halls so that a new studio space and a digital cinema will be priorities
- on working constructively with others like the Mayor of London, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Arts Council, local groups and cultural professionals.
Labour sees culture as a key to regeneration.
A member of the Board and the Development Manager of Fairfield Halls talked about its role and future. A new website and box office system is to be launched to help improve publicity and booking. Hale Man spoke about her work as resident artist at the Whitgift Centre and the Elements of Transformation project there, as well as previous work.
These presentations were followed by round table discussions, followed by someone from each table summarising the key points. The seminar then closed with an opportunity for people to chat with each other.
Across the tables there appeared to be general agreement:
- that Croydon’s image as a cultural location was poor and needs to be transformed.
- that the information about cultural activities needs to be better publicised and that there should be a one stop website for events. This enabled Anna Arthur of Croydon Arts Network to announce that the website to perform this function will be launched at its next event on 13 August.
- that there needs to be the encouragement of ‘an ecology’ of cultural venues meeting different needs, including different sizes.
- that the licensing and other conditions acting as barriers to holding cultural events should be eased.
- that developers should invest more in public art.
- that a greater % of Community Infrastructure Levy fund should be earmarked for culture.
A quote and a slogan
- “We want a revolution not a renaissance.”
- “Proud to be made and live in Croydon.’
Issues raised by particular tables included:
- Because the cultural offer does not reflect the diversity of the Borough’s residents, it is tantamount to racism or institutional racism.
- SEGAS House should not be purchased for an Oasis Academy but developed for community use e.g. a Museum.
- The Section 106 money transferred by the developer from Warehouse Theatre to the Council should be restored.
- The £50,000 cut to the Croydon Music Service should be re-instated.
In closing the seminar Godfrey announced that the Council would be working on a Borough wide Croydon Festival for 2015 and that a further seminar would be held in due course.