ARTS, culture and heritage can flourish across the borough and should not be tied to a single building which urgently needs more than £16 million investment, that is the message from Thurrock Council.
The Thameside Complex is one of a number of operational assets the council is considering disposing of following a decision by Cabinet earlier this month as it looks to provide better and more efficient services from fewer buildings.
Cllr Deborah Huelin, Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “To claim that culture, art and heritage can only be delivered from a building in Grays is not only wrong it is also extremely limiting.
“These services are vital to support communities and the economic regeneration of the borough but rather than tie them down to a single building, which has never been truly fit for purpose, we will work with production companies, local groups, and existing borough-wide facilities, including much valued community halls, to promote arts and culture in venues across Thurrock.
“By doing this we can support the development of new cultural productions and events that better serve all of the borough’s communities because they will be delivered in venues across the borough.
“This will create a better, more diverse and community focused offering for residents of Thurrock. I look forward to exploring all possible options over the coming months.”
Cllr Mark Coxshall, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “The minimum we would have to spend to bring the Thameside Complex up to standard is £16 million, then on top of that, the building costs over £500,000 a year to run and maintain.
“Not only could this money be better spent elsewhere, we can improve the service we offer by looking at letting go of a building which more often than not works against us in delivering arts, culture and heritage.
“By looking to what lays ahead instead of anchoring ourselves to an unsuitable, although much loved, building we can create an offering that is truly fit for the 21st century and not tied to an expensive, inefficient and now outdated 1970s vision of the future.
“Now with the £19.9 million Towns Fund money secured for Grays and discussions about the future of the Thameside Complex taking place I look forward to hearing from community groups or other organisations about what their vision for cultural services and the building or buildings they need”