Surrey County Council (SCC), faced with a huge budget deficit of more than £100m, is considering closing Surrey's award-winning Performing Arts Library (PAL) early next year. That is what SCC say will happen if either savings of at least £180,000 at PAL cannot be found before April 2018 or if an alternative organisation cannot be identified to take over the running of PAL.
SCC has launched a public survey with options for the future of PAL which is available on-line at surreycc.gov.uk/shapingspal. The survey was launched on 4 September and the closing date for responses is Sunday 17 September.
The Friends of Surrey Performing Arts Library (FOSPAL) is a small independent charity which is a legacy of the last time (18 years ago) when PAL was under threat. It is campaigning to try to find a long-term sustainable future for the service.
Mark Welling, Chairman of FOSPAL, says: "The Surrey Performing Arts Library is unique. It is not the same as other borrowing libraries. It has one of the best collections in the country of orchestral, choir and drama sets as well as CDs, DVDs, scores and books related to all the performing arts. It is at the centre of an eco-system of choirs, orchestras, bands, drama groups, opera groups, music teachers, professional musicians and singers as well as individual users. Thousands of Surrey residents participate in groups which rely on PAL, and many more thousands benefit indirectly as members of audiences of such groups. These groups also provide employment to professional musicians (for example as conductors, soloists, accompanists, instrumentalists). We all understand the financial pressures on local authorities but the loss or severe cutting back of PAL would have a major adverse effect on the many groups and individuals who, directly or indirectly, use it."
He continued: "Surrey County Council's survey came as a shock. It is poorly designed and the period for responding is extremely short. But it is vital that everyone who values PAL should respond and also contact their county councillors to complain about the short timetable and urge them to support efforts to find a long-term sustainable future for PAL - for example through a transfer to a new regional performing arts trust backed by user groups."
FOSPAL would like to hear from any groups or individuals who want to help it find a long-term future for the Performing Arts Library. Contact: [email protected]