Croydon’s heritage and museum might have had a reprieve but all other arts services have been axed in what opposition members are calling an act of cultural vandalism.
Papers going before the Cabinet next week show the David Lean cinema will be shut down, the summer festival and mela, which entertained more than 50,000 people this year, has been dropped and the Clocktower closed to any exhibitions or events.
Between 28 and 33 members of staff have been told they will lose their jobs.
Tony Newman, leader of the Labour group, said: “This is an act of cultural vandalism. The council has told at least 28 members of staff they are sacked and it has shut down what was already a limited cultural programme.”
The David Lean cinema, named after one of Croydon’s most famous sons, has stood as a monument to the late David Lean, one of the most accomplished film directors of the 1940s, 50s and 60s.
The Clocktower has been described by Time Out as “the jewel in Croydon’s Crown”.
It is described as the main cultural centre in Croydon and has hosted performances, exhibitions and worked in partnership with the London International Mime Festival, London Film Festival and London Mozart Players.
The Clocktower Cafe is run by an outside company and is not set to close down.
Councillor Sara Bashford said the council had to make very difficult decisions.
She said: “We have made no bones about the very difficult financial situation we are in.
“We had a lot of views about the club soda [which provides arts events] for people with disabilities and are keeping that service.
“I did get a lot of comments on the David Lean cinema. It is hard to retain when we are looking at closing libraries.”
She said the council had approached Fairfield Halls about getting them to provide a similar film service for older people in the borough.
Coun Bashford was unable to say what would happen to the empty spaces in the Clocktower but would not rule out selling the space to outside providers.