Black-led theatre company Talawa has announced plans to create a permanent home in the redeveloped Fairfield Halls in Croydon.
Talawa, which was founded in 1986, will have an on-site performance space for the first time since 1995 when it moves into Fairfield Halls as a residency company later this year.
Its headquarters will include a 200-seat studio alongside the company’s offices and is intended to become a hub for black artists.
The premises will also allow Talawa to create and premiere new work and to develop community outreach and artist development programmes in Croydon. These include opportunities to train young black artists in technical and creative theatre disciplines.
Artistic director Michael Buffong said he hoped that by creating a hub for black artists, Talawa could “diversify and shape the cultural life of the whole country”.
The company is currently based at Rich Mix in Shoreditch, but does not have a permanent performance space there. Until 1995 it was based at the Cochrane Theatre.
The announcement that Talawa would be resident at Fairfield Halls comes nearly a year after local arts organisation Savvy Theatre was unveiled as being the company in residence at the venue for the next 10 years.
Both Savvy Theatre and Talawa will be resident in the new Fairfield Halls, as will chamber orchestra the London Mozart Players.
The building has been closed for a major, multimillion-pound renovation since 2016, and is due to reopen in September.
Fairfield Halls is owned by Croydon Council, whose cabinet member for culture, Oliver Lewis, said: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome Talawa and incredibly proud that they have chosen Croydon as their new home.
“Its vision and ambition in changing the face of theatre, attracting diverse audiences and creating platforms for the work of black artists is internationally renowned, and we are excited by the conversations we have already had with them about the potential for them being based here.”
Fairfield Halls’ redevelopment was the subject of controversy when hundreds of people objected to the £30 million proposals that were put forward before an operator was attached to run the new venue. The operator was subsequently announced as BH Live.