After £ 41million + spending: art center has no gallery space for art
An arts society formed in the borough 150 years ago faces an uncertain future as it has emerged that after spending more than £ 41million on renovating the Fairfield Halls, in a staggering display of incompetence even by customary Croydon standards, the gallery space board. Our artistic correspondent, BELLA BARTOCK, reports
Croydon Council managed to spend £ 41million on the renovation of the Fairfield Halls arts center, but it now appears that the place has nowhere adapted or dedicated to the art exhibition.
It is the shocking – and cringe-worthy – discovery of the award-winning Croydon Art Society, which is currently holding its 130th annual exhibition in the Clock Tower, next to Town Hall, but whose exhibits of their members’ works face an uncertain future with nowhere to hang their paintings or display other forms of arts and crafts.
Anthony Waldbaum, the president of the Croydon Art Society, has been informed that the Fairfield Halls cannot host the Society’s biannual exhibitions and that with the upcoming changes to the Croydon and Croydon Clocktower Museum they will not be able to exhibit their members. ” won’t work there from 2020 either.
From next year, the Croydon Museum plans to run exhibitions for durations of only three months – far too long to be practicable for the Croydon Art Society, an organization that relies on finding volunteers to staff reception at such events.
The Fairfield Halls, of course, once had a space dedicated to art, the Arnhem Gallery.
That was until the venue was closed for renovations in 2016. Then the arts complex was turned over to Brick by Brick, the council’s loss-making home builders with no track record of large-venue renovations, and the organizers. of the South Coast BH Live conference, to oversee the venue’s artistic program.
Nearly 18 months late and at least £ 11million over budget, Fairfield Halls reopened in September with promised unfinished and incomplete works, with Arnhem Gallery now being replaced by what venue management has decided to call “the wreck”.
It’s what they describe as “a new 750-seat concert space” – another venue for theater and live music in addition to the existing concert hall and Ashcroft theater.
There have already been issues, unspecified by venue management, around The Wreck which saw one of its first concerts, which was due to be staged earlier this month, canceled just a week away.
According to the Fairfield Halls own website, they have only booked nine events at The Wreck by June 2020.
The council and BHLive went to great lengths to provide office space and performance studios to meet the needs of theater groups outside the borough. If there has ever been any real consultation on the arts groups actually based in the borough – like the Croydon Art Society, which has been in existence since 1869 – the failure to create a dedicated art gallery seems to be an omission. .
In the plans of the renovated Fairfield there are has been the promise of a figurative and visual art gallery, to be built in what was once the underground parking lot of the Halls (there is currently no parking space in the Halls, which Inside Croydon understands made it unsuitable for some exhibition organizers).
Croydon Council even offered and received a £ 14million grant from quango Coast2Capital, which included £ 4million for the underground art gallery.
the recently bankrupt Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison, the former owner of the Rise Gallery and the preferred art dealer of Jo Negrini, CEO of the board, it was widely believed that he had been offered to manage the prestigious new artistic space.
But this gallery was never built. Inside Croydon understands that none of the public funds provided under the grant for the construction of the gallery have been returned.
More than two months since the “grand reopening” of the Halls, in the presence of the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, amid the rubble of builders and bare electric cables, the Halls have finally opened their new coffee last Saturday.
The Fairfield Cafe has bare walls and studio space that might be suitable for art shows, but there are “no plans at this time” for such exhibits, according to those who have visited.
The Halls Foyer hosted a small exhibition of photographs related to the Windrush Generation, but the lack of proper gallery space is another ridiculously poor planning element in the half-armed renovation project. All of this makes another lie from Tony Newman – that Fairfield Halls is “South London’s greatest arts center” – rings even more hollow.
The Croydon Art Society wrote to Ollie “Oliver” Lewis, the Board Member for Butt Plugs and Shit Shows, on the lack of suitable exhibition options at the Clock Tower under the Museum’s new regime.
According to a source from the Company, “Rear space has been offered to us at Fairfields, but we have not yet had a chance to view or review this offer. ”
A committee meeting was scheduled to take place this week to discuss options.
This week, Clark sought to intervene on the issue of the lack of space in the galleries, but not on behalf of the Art Society to guarantee them a viable venue for future exhibitions, but “to ask if what you have been told is correct ”.
Obviously, covering the buttocks of his council heads is always the priority.
Clark wrote on social media that he “was extremely concerned “about the lack of suitable gallery space at the Croydon Art Society, stating that” Fairfield Halls is willing to exhibit their show ”.
The veracity of this claim can only be proven over time. It remains to be seen whether such exhibits take place in a state-of-the-art, multi-million pound gallery, or a rear bike shed where smokers sneak in for a quick vape.