Croydon Council has revealed its preferred operator to run its Fairfield Halls venue, due to re-open in 2018 following a full refurbishment.
South coast leisure and event venue operator BH Live is the recommended Preferred Bidder following a competitive tendering process which the council began back in October 2016.
Council leader Cllr. Tony Newman announced the decision to appoint the operator of Bournemouth International Centre, BH Live, which currently operates 14 other venues across the south of England.
BH Live also provides hospitality and event banqueting services across more than 40 venues, including London Aquatics Centre and Copper Box Arena at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
BH Live’s ambition for Fairfield Halls to be the heart of Croydon’s cultural community was supported by a clear and comprehensive strategy to inspire and develop new artistic talent, a council statement said.
“Another key strength of their bid was a strong emphasis on partnership working with local organisations, from community arts groups to businesses to other venues such as Boxpark and the operator of the new 2,000 sqm art gallery, which will be developed as part of the wider College Green regeneration,” the statement added.
BH Live is a major provider of conferences, exhibitions and events and over 118,000 delegates attended their business events in 2015/16.
BH Live, which is a charity foundation and social enterprise, said it would introduce a calendar of festivals, conferences, public exhibitions, trade shows, banqueting, dance and fitness events at Fairfield Halls.
Cllr. Timothy Godfrey, cabinet member for culture, said: “This is fantastic news for Fairfield Halls and fantastic news for Croydon. We are transforming Fairfield Halls with a £30m 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.”
Peter Gunn, BH Live’s chief executive, said an exciting new chapter lay ahead. “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.”
The refurbishment of Fairfield Halls started in summer 2016 and is now well underway. 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 in May.
Photo of the future Fairfield Halls courtesy of Rick Mather Architects