Salisbury House one of several council-owned venues to be moved to new ‘community assets’ team, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter
Jobs could be lost as part of a shake-up of Enfield’s cultural services team, the council has admitted, amid fears for an arts venue’s future.
Enfield Council revealed there could be “some redundancies” in its culture department and confirmed Salisbury House, a much-loved arts venue in Bush Hill Park, will have its management handed over to a “community assets team”.
Fears for the culture department were raised earlier this year, when Emma Rigby, founder of community organisation Love Your Doorstep, accused the council of “pushing out” head of arts and culture Paul Everitt and his team.
Emma launched a petition calling on the council to “save Paul Everitt and the Enfield cultural team from redundancy”. A key part of the disagreement revolved around Edmonton possibly being left without any council-run culture venue, with others in the area also said to be under threat.
The council has confirmed that Paul Everitt is currently still employed as its head of arts and culture.
Debbie Dean, who previously ran arts group Art Start from Salisbury House – a Grade 2-listed building in Bury Street West – warned Edmonton was being put at a disadvantage after she was recently told by a council officer that the transfer would be going ahead.
“It seems they are just dismissing the area,” Debbie said. “I am sure if this building were in a different part of Enfield, this would not be happening; the council would be keeping them under the cultural and heritage banner.”
Debbie raised fears that Salisbury House would be “run along the same lines as all the other council hire buildings and lose its identity as an arts centre”.
“The council will not run any community events, it will just be somewhere to hire for people who can afford it,” she claimed. “There seems to be a move towards getting rid of the cultural services team and replacing it with a cultural officer.”
Debbie warned arts and culture groups could lose access to key information and support provided by staff as a result of the management change. She said she feared Salisbury House would become run down if it was not managed by the cultural team, putting its future as an arts venue at risk.
A spokesperson for the local authority said: “Salisbury House and Green Towers Community Centre were previously managed by culture, Angel Community Centre and our youth centres by facilities management, and the remainder of the community halls by housing. All are used by a mix of community, cultural and commercial hirers.
“We believe that a single community assets team with an improved booking system will benefit community and cultural groups across the borough by providing a single point of access and consistent pricing.
“Salisbury House has a good history of being used as a community arts centre and as an office for local community groups. By making its rooms and facilities available alongside our other community halls, we expect that history to continue and to broaden its access to a wider resident group. We will continue to promote it as a good venue to rent or to hire as an arts facility and to support events there.
“We have reviewed the culture team to ensure that we have the right skills and structure to take our new culture strategy, Culture Connects, forward.
“The proposals have been subject to consultation with staff and the new structure has led to a permanent head of service for the first time in a number of years. Appointments already made from within the existing team include a number of promotions to newly-created roles.
“The team is not being disbanded. Although it is accepted there may be some redundancies, we are fully committed to working with staff to minimise these.”