Culture boss to leave council amid row over arts venues

Paul Everitt described as ‘heart and soul’ of local arts scene, reports James Cracknell

Paul Everitt, Enfield Council's former head of arts and culture (credit Enfield Council)
Paul Everitt has been Enfield’s head of arts and culture for the last 13 years (credit Enfield Council)

The head of arts and culture at Enfield Council is being made redundant following a row over the future of several arts venues in the borough.

The Dispatch understands that Paul Everitt, who has been in post for 13 years and is a familiar face among the borough’s arts scene, is now on ‘gardening leave’ after his job role was made obsolete.

It follows a recent shake-up of the council’s cultural services and the way they are managed, with two Edmonton arts venues – Salisbury House and Green Towers – being moved into a new ‘community assets’ team. The uncertain future of a third venue, Millfield Arts Centre, is also understood to be a key part of the disagreements that have preceded Paul’s upcoming redundancy.

The council declined to comment on “individual contractual matters” but did not deny that Paul is being made redundant.

Emma Rigby, founder of community organisation Love Your Doorstep, has worked closely with Paul and launched a petition earlier this year in support of him. She told the Dispatch: “This is a huge loss to our borough. The passion and the commitment that Paul showed to culture and heritage will be extremely difficult to replace.”

A key part of Paul’s work during his time at the council has been the development of the Dugdale Centre in Enfield Town as a core part of the borough’s arts scene. Over the last decade the Dugdale has hosted regular pantomime, puppetry and children’s theatre plus jazz, comedy and poetry nights. An exhibition space has featured work produced by artists from across the borough, including many from under-represented groups.

Patrick Samuel is an artist and musician from Palmers Green whose work has been displayed at the Dugdale several times. Patrick, who calls himself the ‘Asperger Artist’, told the Dispatch: “Paul is basically responsible for everything – he was my gateway to the entire community.

“If it was not for Paul coming to an autism event I was at, where he offered me my first exhibition, I would have nothing.

“His enthusiasm for inclusivity – disabilities, multiculturalism, LGBT – he is a champion, helping people like me who touches on all these things. I don’t know what will happen without him. He is the heart and soul of art and culture in Enfield.”

After its recent use as a Covid-19 vaccination centre, the Dugdale is now set to be reconfigured to accommodate new offices for council staff, reducing the amount of space available for arts and culture. It is understood Paul objected to this move.

Commenting earlier this month on the decision to manage Salisbury House Arts Centre in Bush Hill Park and Green Towers Community Centre in Edmonton Green as part of the new community assets team, separate from its other arts venues, a council spokesperson said: “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.”