A report from a Royal Philharmonic Orchestra concert at crisis-ridden Fairfield Hall, Croydon:
Went to the Fairfield last night to hear a wonderful concert by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The music was wonderful, as it should be from a really world class orchestra. That was the only pleasant thing about the whole experience. We arrived early because of the difficulty in finding parking and had hoped to have a snack before the concert started. The only place open was the so called servery. This had on offer two open (probably contravening health and safety regulations) trays of pizza like breads, four slices of each on two trays and a few dismal, white bread, due to expire today sandwiches, no trays, no choice. The counter was staffed by a charming but highly overworked young lady who was, of course, under great pressure as the starting time approached.
The hall was about half full and it was very evident that at least 50% the audience were there on complimentary tickets. It was well and truly papered. The seats were, of course, as uncomfortable as they were 40 years ago and the view from the stalls of the tatty, dull, dark choir seats was truly dispiriting. It make me sad to have to repeat the little phrase that Obama used to such effect about lipstick and pigs….but that is just what it felt like it. I felt like I was on a sinking ship, rudderless, direction free and foundering. It is going to take a marketing and booking genius to stop the place going under….and I fear we may well see temporary periods of closure as bookings dry up. Wrestling may save it for a while …….but that may be our only real contribution as the centre of culture in couple of years time. At the moment there’s more culture in a tub (small) of Aldi yogurt than there is in Croydon. And that whoosh you have just heard is the sound of £42 million going down the pan.