Performing Arts Library’s award-winning collection can be kept in Surrey

One of England’s three largest collections of performing arts loan material can be kept and will be moved to Woking town centre.

On Tuesday March 16, the New Surrey Performing Arts Library (NewSPAL) obtained planning permission to move into Morris House on Commercial Way, next to Betfred and Lloyds Bank.

The move, described as a “significant milestone” in the library project, will ensure the preservation of a comprehensive collection of several thousand items accumulated over more than 40 years.

The collection – which has won several awards of excellence from the UK branch of the International Association of Music Libraries – consists of 206,000 scores for choirs, orchestras and chamber music, scripts for plays, CDs, DVDs and books on music, theater and dance. .



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Previously housed at Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking, the library faced an uncertain future when Surrey County Council (SCC) proposed funding cuts in 2017, and there were fears the collection could be split.

But NewSPAL, a charity set up by and for library users, was given permission by SCC in 2019 to take it over.

It is currently managed by the Ewell Library Board, but should be transferred to NewSPAL by this summer.

Canalside Woking Councilor Tahir Aziz said: “I want to congratulate the charity for working so hard and getting this off the ground.

“It’s a real pleasure to see this library settle in our city.”

Planning Committee member Cllr Graham Cundy said the arrival of the specialist lending and reference library would complement the move of the Italia Conti School of Dance and Theater to Victoria Square.

“This app represents the start of our main street rebranding,” he said.

“We’ll see more people come to town to have experiences, rather than just to buy items.”



Morris House, Woking, where NewSPAL will house the performing arts collection

NewSPAL chairman Mark Welling said: “It is good news for the council and residents of Woking to be able to bring nationally significant cultural amenities to the town center as part of a more diverse mix of ‘uses, in the context of the sharp decline in traditional retail.

“NewSPAL looks forward to getting the project back on track over the summer.

“There is still a lot of work to be done and more money to be raised to complete the project, but we very much hope that we will be able to open the new library in Woking before the end of the year.”

It plans to lend to Surrey and beyond, offering lower rates to county residents and groups.

Donations can be made here.

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