Talawa, the UK’s primary black theatre company, officially opened their new studio and celebrated their exciting position as one of the new companies-in-residence at Fairfield Halls, which reopened in September following a multi-million-pound council led restoration.
Thursday evening’s unveiling included dance-theatre performances from FUBU Nation and a play reading and showcased Talawa’s new space, which gives the theatre company a 200-seat studio and offices for the first time since 1995.
As well as being a space where they will develop new work and ideas, host debates and events for Croydon’s communities, the residency also provides a home for Talawa’s art development programme MAKE, a community of Black British artists developing their careers in technical and creative theatre disciplines.
Councillor Oliver Lewis, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, said: “I am incredibly excited to welcome Talawa to Croydon. Their new space in Fairfield Halls will not only provide space for talented artists to meet, train and develop, but their planned outreach work will make Black British theatre more accessible locally, which I have no doubt will inspire many young residents.
“Croydon’s communities are rich in diversity and to have the UK’s leading black theatre company based in our borough - at the heart of Croydon’s cultural offering - is very exciting.”
In moving to Croydon, Talawa has become the borough’s first Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, an accolade awarded to organisations that are leaders in their areas, with a collective responsibility to protect and develop the country’s national arts and cultural ecology.
Michael Buffong, Artistic Director of Talawa Theatre Company, added: “For Talawa to have a space for Black British artists to develop new work is a game-changer; the outstanding work which will be created and premiered here will diversify and shape the cultural life of the whole country.”
Talawa join SAVVY Theatre, an inclusive, professional theatre group, resident orchestra London Mozart Players and orchestras-in-partnership the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Chineke! Orchestra in making the recently refurbished Fairfield Halls their home, cementing its place as the leading venue in Croydon offering a wide mix of entertainment, truly reflective of Croydon’s diverse community.