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New Fairfield operators target mass participation

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The company set to run the refurbished Fairfield Halls has pledged to breathe new life into the historic venue and encourage mass participation.

Croydon Council has named BH Live, a leading leisure and event operator and social enterprise on the south coast, as preferred bidder to operate Fairfield when it opens in 2018.

The report, which has been approved by council leader Tony Newman, follows a competitive tendering process which began last October.

BH Live’s proposed programme for Croydon includes more than 800 performances, more than half of which will be community-based.

Peter Gunn, chief executive of BH Live, said: “We are delighted to have been selected as the preferred operator to return Fairfield Halls back to the community as a transformed and thriving cultural hub.

“As ambassadors of culture, leisure and events we will work with Croydon Council and the local community, to breathe new life into the venue and create a forward-thinking programme to encourage mass participation and enjoyment – one that is accessible and sustainable for the communities of Croydon and beyond.

“As a social enterprise, one of our defining differences is that the surplus we make enables us to invest back into the venues and services we deliver. It also enables us to provide a diverse programme of activities and events with broad appeal to maximise on the venue’s unique spaces, which will further boost audiences and participation.”

Theatre, drama, live music, visual arts, international performances, opera, ballet, comedy, dance and community events will feature on the Fairfield programme.
BH Live already operates 15 leisure and event venues across the south of England as well as providing hospitality and event banqueting services across more than 40 venues.
The council said BH Live’s bid set out a clear and comprehensive strategy to inspire and develop new artistic talent through create partnerships with schools and colleges, outreach programmes, a theatre school and a diverse range of workshops. There are also plans for a seasonal roller or ice rink.

Councillor Timothy Godfrey, the cabinet member for culture, said: “This is fantastic news for Fairfield Halls and fantastic news for Croydon.

“We are transforming Fairfield Halls with a £30million makeover, delivering a world-class entertainment venue in the heart of Croydon and we want a dynamic operator who will ensure it is both the huge success it deserves to be and financially sustainable for generations to come.

“We also want an operator who is enthusiastic about playing a strong and active role as a partner in our community; who shares our vision for Fairfield as the cultural heart of Croydon; is determined as we are ensure it is accessible to all; and is committed to developing and providing opportunities for new artistic talent.”

The refurbishment of Fairfield Halls started in summer 2016. The council’s development company, Brick by Brick, has contractors on site carrying out the first phase of works to prepare the building for the main structural works which start next in May.