Croydon Arts groups fear for their future
While Croydon Council was praised for its support for Fairfield Halls, alternative Arts groups said they feared for their future amid funding cuts.
The past year has seen Croydon Council tighten the purse strings and the arts has taken a significant hit, with the Warehouse Theatre, the David Lean Cinema and the Croydon Clocktower all having funding withdrawn.
Amateur groups such as Croydon Operatic and Dramatic Association (CODA) and Croydon Stagers are also finding it hard to keep going in the current climate.
Vicky Watkins, musical producer at CODA, said it is becoming increasingly difficult for their group to afford putting on productions at the Ashcroft Theatre at Fairfield Halls.
The 61-year-old, who has been involved with CODA for 43 years, said: "It has become increasingly difficult over the last few years.
"Community theatre has suffered a lot. It is becoming harder and harder for amateur companies to keep on going.
"We are lucky enough to use the Ashcroft Theatre at Fairfield Halls but we are being squeezed and squeezed and squeezed due to prices going up. We are a good alternative group but the options for us are declining."
Croydon Council has come under fire for withdrawing funding for these smaller groups but deputy leader of the Council, Councillor Tim Pollard, said they are trying to find new ways to promote the arts in the borough.
Coun Pollard added that it was important that the Council stay committed to the Fairfield.
He said: "It was fitting that we marked the 50th anniversary of Fairfield in that sort of way. At the moment it is not easy for any Council to be supporting arts programmes, and we have had to make substantial reductions.
"We have continued to support Fairfield through revenue and capital support.
"There is so much cultural activity going on in Croydon and we do want to help. The council is really going to have to change. We are having to go from provider to facilitator."
Councillor Timothy Godfrey, the shadow cabinet member for culture and sport, said the council should take more risks when it comes to the arts.
He said: "The Arts should be one of the economic drivers of the town. We can’t have a one act arts policy when it comes to the Fairfield, we need venues like the Warehouse and the Clocktower.
"There needs to be a community side which helps groups like the Croydon Operatic and Dramatic Association pay rent to use the Fairfield Halls.
"The arts are about risk and we need to encourage risk and encourage people to invest in it."