The exciting £30m refurbishment of the Fairfield Halls comes a step closer this week as the venue’s doors close temporarily in preparation to herald a new era for one of south London’s most cherished venues.
The award-winning plans will see the halls retain all of their best features when they re-open in the summer of 2018. There will also be significant improvements and upgrades made to the public areas and the all-important backstage. Alongside the halls the gardens will be turned into a lively and vibrant public space, with the underground car park transformed into a large art gallery.
Informal talks are already underway with industry-leading theatre and music promoters and catering specialists. This is in advance of a formal process that will take place over the next six months.
The council is going to be taking guidance in its approach to the future of the halls from the findings of an independent report that is currently being compiled by the Theatres Trust.
“Today is an important step towards restoring and refurbishing Fairfield for the people of Croydon. We want to thank Fairfield (Croydon) Ltd, its trustees, all their staff and volunteers for their hard work and passion for Fairfield Halls, and for the outstanding contribution they all have made to our community.
“What we are 100% committed to is ensuring this huge investment will bring about a big return for the local community. In two years’ time we will be in a position to bring in some top-quality touring productions and shows, as well as working hand-in-hand with the huge number of community arts groups that are active in Croydon.”
Councillor Timothy Godfrey, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport
In the meantime the council is looking to support local arts organisations and events with the introduction of a ‘cultural partnership fund’. This will be formally launched in the coming weeks, and will provide a simple means for arts-based organisations to secure the money they need to deliver a range of exciting cultural projects – from small festivals and the production of plays, to educational schemes and public art initiatives.
This will help ensure arts and culture continues to flourish in the borough whilst the halls are out of action.
Anyone interested in the building’s 60s heritage roots can take part in a series of National Trust tours. These run until 24 July and will explore not only the Fairfield, but numerous nearby buildings of the same era.
Fairfield Halls and the Museum of Croydon are teaming up to deliver The Fairfield Collection, a year-long project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to preserve and celebrate Fairfield’s rich and colourful 54 year history. The project will culminate with a major exhibition and film at the Croydon Heritage Festival in 2017.
Kate Vennell, chair of Fairfield (Croydon) Ltd.’s board, said: “I want to thank all staff for all their efforts to deliver an exciting programme right up until closure. In the last year we enabled around 200,000 people to see shows and more than 11,000 young people to take part in performances. Through our heritage project, we will now be focusing on celebrating the history of Fairfield by preserving memories of great times covering more than 50 years.”
Fairfield’s Chief Executive, Simon Thomsett, said: “We would like to take this opportunity to recognise the achievements of our talented team and their hard work in some challenging times. Their phenomenal efforts are reflected in record attendances throughout 2015/2016. We can feel proud that we are going out on a high.
“We look forward to the reopening of the refurbished Fairfield Halls as one of the most prestigious arts and entertainment venues in the country in 2018.”
Architects, Rick Mather, were last week presented with a New London Architecture Award in the conservation category for their work on the Fairfield proposals. This internationally judged competition highlights the best architectural design work being carried out across the capital.