Community support helps Saffron Hall plan reduced programme

A Covid safe performance at Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden

A Covid safe performance at Saffron Hall - Credit: Saffron Photo

Saffron Hall is appealing for public donations after the venue received no government support in the latest round of arts funding.

The venue, which presents classical concerts and jazz evenings, and hosts artists including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, was granted £245,000 in the first round of the government’s Cultural Recovery Fund.

However it was not awarded the £120,000 it sought in the second round.

Saffron Hall Chief Executive Angela Dixon

Saffron Hall Chief Executive Angela Dixon - Credit: Paul Eccleston

Angela Dixon, Saffron Hall's chief executive, said: “We are in a position of wanting to open and keep all of our community programmes running, but we have no government support."

Other arts organisations received grants, including arts and media centre Fairycroft House which was awarded £35,220 and festival and events hire company GHB Hire which was awarded £88,851. Wardlaw Limited in Saffron Walden received £232,589.

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Angela added: “We're delighted for all the people in the area that got [funding] and it was all richly deserved. But the national picture for the arts is very patchy. It tends to be very London focused.”

Saffron Hall's Covid-19 Appeal has raised over £125,000 so far which means they can plan a reduced programme for reopening on the first weekend of June if the Covid roadmap permits.

Angela added: “We're still having to dig deep to keep the organisation going, but it's the support of the community that fires us up to do that.”

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Their programme supports professional artists, local musicians and the most vulnerable through community projects like Together in Sound, a music therapy group for people living with dementia and their carers. 

Musician Jane Richardson has been sponsoring the Hall for three years.

“I think we need to blow its trumpet in a major way if you pardon the slight pun.

“We are so lucky, as a community, to have a resource like this on our doorstep. It's as good as anything as you'd get in London.

“The acoustics are superb…You can hear the flautists breathe before they play.”

Saffron Walden resident and regular concertgoer Anthony Armon-Jones has been donating to Saffron Hall since its beginning in 2013.

He said: “It is such a benefit to the town, and it makes it a joy to be here for that alone.”

With more funding, Angela said she would like to expand programmes into “cold spots in Essex which have very little cultural engagement”.

She would also like to diversify the programme, which already includes classical, folk, world and jazz music, dance and spoken word.

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