NOW IS THE TIME TO SHOW YOUR SUPPORT AND GET INVOLVED
New Surrey Performing Arts Library (NewSPAL) is a registered charity, set up by users for users, to establish a secure future for the Surrey Performing Arts Library, currently run by Surrey County Council (SCC).
In the face of significant budget challenges, SCC plans to close the dedicated perfoming arts library at Denbies and split the collection between two Surrey libraries – losing the integrity and sustainability of this unique collection, as well as specialist staff and knowledge.
NewSPAL’s vision, if it is allowed to take on the Surrey Performing Arts Library, is:
NewSPAL will have to make changes from the way the performing arts library is currently run, as it will have to become entirely financially self-sufficient within three years. This will include also increasing hiring to groups outside of Surrey.
NewSPAL’s outline Business Plan was presented to SCC on 08 February 2018 and SCC Cabinet will, at its meeting on 27 March*, consider the committee's recommendation that NewSPAL be favourably considered as one of the organisations bidding to take over the Library, provided that it can show it is capable of doing so.
So NewSPAL is being given a window of opportunity by SCC to develop its plans.
We need to prove to SCC that NewSPAL has the support of users and that it can raise pledges of £84,000, and volunteer time, for the transition from SCC to NewSPAL.
* Please see the update on our Home page.
The 8 February Surrey County Council (SCC) Communities Select Committee adopted some recommendations for the future of SPAL which will now be put – alongside recommendations from the council officers – to the full SCC Cabinet on 27 March *.
Since the last meeting in November, four users and representatives of Making Music, FOSPAL (Friends of SPAL) and IAML (International Association of Music Librarians) have formed a new charity (NewSPAL) in a bid to take over the running of this music library.
On 8 February, councillors expressed a lot of sympathy for this bid, but fell short of recommending it outright as an option because NewSPAL was asking them to finance the transition to the new charity and councillors felt unable to promise any money to SPAL whatsoever after 1 April 2018.
So in order to get what NewSPAL feels would be the right decision at the SCC Cabinet meeting on 27 March *, NewSPAL is now launching an urgent campaign to ask users and potential users for their support by way of pledges – practical help, funds, ideas, volunteer time - to implement a move to a new building and to the new charity.
NewSPAL needs some evidence by 15 March * so that it will be able to demonstrate to Cabinet that its proposed solution is both supported by users and that its plans are feasible, represent no risk to the collection and maintain at least as good a service as the fall-back option SCC themselves are proposing (and which Making Music, FOSPAL and IAML, as well as many users, think will be wholly inadequate).
If there is no credible case for NewSPAL by the time of the cabinet meeting, SCC will implement their option from April which involves moving the collection, splitting drama and music into two libraries, and having no dedicated or specialist staff.
We can still bid to take over SPAL, even if the Cabinet meeting on 27 March * does not decide for NewSPAL’s plans, but we think it is important to move as quickly as possible to prevent the collection being dispersed and start suffering deterioration.
* Please see the update on our Home page.
Please share the link below with all your contacts, with all the members of your group, if you are involved in one, and with all your music-loving friends all over the UK -- because SPAL is important for music and drama way beyond the borders of Surrey, too.
Q1: Where can I get more information?
A: For more information you can go to NewSPAL's outline business plan, first presented to SCC in February 2018. However, please note that, as circumstances move on, that plan will continuously evolve - please watch this NewSPAL website for updates.
Q2: Has Surrey County Council (SCC) agreed to NewSPAL taking over the Surrey Performing Arts Library (SPAL)?
A: No - not yet. Councillors on the SCC committee responsible for over-seeing Surrey libraries were broadly supportive in principle but final decisions have to be taken by SCC's Cabinet.
We have been told that, in order for the Cabinet to support a takeover by NewSPAL, we will have to demonstrate that:
That is what we are trying to demonstrate by seeking pledges of support and future funding now.
Q3: Why do you need new premises? Why can't SPAL remain at Denbies?
A: The Denbies Wine Estate generously supported SPAL for many years through charging a very low rent. More recently, partly in response to significantly increased business rates, Denbies have had to start charging a market rent to SCC for the SPAL premises.
For the type of premises which SPAL needs (for example large areas are needed for storage of vocal, orchestral and play sets), costing information from SCC indicates that Denbies is too expensive for NewSPAL to take on and would mean unacceptably high charges for users, so NewSPAL will not seek to remain there. That is also why SCC wishes to move SPAL out of Denbies as soon as possible (although SCC is committed to its lease at Denbies for some years to come).
Q5: Will I still be able to visit the library to browse the collection?
A: Yes - although the hours when the library will be open for public browsing are likely to be more limited, in order to keep the operating costs down. But we aim to have it open to the public at least for some time during specified weekdays, on one designated evening per week and on Saturday mornings, and will consult users on preferred opening hours.
Q6: Will I still be able to collect things from my local Surrey library?
A: We don't yet know, but probably not - although we would seek to negotiate arrangements with a number of libraries (not only in Surrey) where collections and returns could take place.
But we expect that many users, particularly the librarians of orchestras and choirs, may prefer to have hired music delivered directly to them (e.g. by a courier delivery company) and returned in the same way. The (similar) costs of delivery and return would need to be covered by the borrower in any case, but direct delivery may be preferred by many to having to physically collect from and return to the library.
Q8: But surely these texts and scores will all be digitised before long?
A: Undoubtedly eventually all music and texts will be available digitally, but our prediction, based on discussions with music publishers, amongst others, is that physical copies of most scores and scripts will still be preferred/essential for at least 10 years yet.
Q4: You are asking for £84,000 for transition costs. What's that money for?
A: At this stage we are asking for pledges of money. We do not want to be in a position where people have given money and then, for whatever reason, SCC refuses to allow NewSPAL to take over SPAL.
At the moment NewSPAL has been set up entirely by voluntary effort and any expenses have been covered personally by the initial trustees. But since SCC is not able to make any contribution towards the cost of transition of SPAL to NewSPAL, we estimate that we will need at least £84,000 to cover those costs, as set out in the outline business plan.
We hope that SCC will give us the stock (possibly initially on a long-term loan) and the furniture (e.g. rolling stacks and shelving) free of charge. But inter alia we will need around:
Some of these costs are inevitably estimates at this stage and some may be off-set through volunteers with specialist skills offering their services for free.
We will also need volunteers to help with transferring the stock listings onto the new IT system - which will be vital to get the new library up and running as soon as possible.
Q7: Where will the new library be?
A: At this stage we don't know where the new library will be. We need to find new premises for the library which are both acceptable to SCC and also affordable (to be able to keep charges for users as low as possible).
As now, wherever the library is physically located, it will be more convenient for some users to get to than others. But the new IT system should offer a much better catalogue for browsing the collection on-line and for reserving materials and paying borrowing charges.
Our aim, however, is to:
Ideally it would also have a room which could also be let out to users (e.g. for small-scale rehearsals, play-readings or other events).
NewSPAL -- The Performing Arts Library in Surrey
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