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.