Secret Cinema Founder announces plan to take over empty Croydon department store

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Secret Cinema Founder announces plan to take over empty Croydon department store

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he founder of Secret Cinema says the “future of art is in the high street” as he announced plans to transform an empty Croydon department store into an arts centre and venue.

Fabian Riggall has taken on the historic Allders building to launch his new project called LOST which looks to regenerate failing high streets and shops into arts and entertainment districts.

The entrepreneur, whose Secret Cinema events pull in audiences in their thousands to immersive screenings of classic films such as Dirty Dancing, has teamed up with The Croydon Partnership and Croydon Council as part of their masterplan to regenerate the south London town.

He said: “LOST is a group of artists, thinkers and creators that are looking to take over former retail centres around the world to design new cultural districts that will become LOST CITY.

“We shall showcase new forms of art and entertainment alongside reinvented retail experiences. To be lost is to lose oneself in art, beyond digital culture, where we can connect in the real world, in deeper and more meaningful stories.

“The future of art is in the high street, in department stores, in shops where we can experience new ideas whilst connecting in real life with real people. We are excited to be working with the local community in developing a richly diverse programme whilst also hosting artists from around the world. We will also be working closely with the Croydon Partnership and Croydon Council as we develop our first lost district at Allders, the beautiful former department store. We encourage any artists who’d like to get involved, to get in touch.”

Created in 2007, Secret Cinema has brought film screenings to abandoned London buildings and fuses film, music, art, theatre and dance.

Allders dates its beginnings to 1862 when Joseph Allder opened his first shop in Croydon and the firm grew from strength to strength in the twentieth century with the Croydon store becoming a south London landmark and the firm owning department stores across the country until its decline and eventual closure in 2013.

Croydon will be the London Borough of Culture next year with local artists joined by international talent to deliver 12 months of events celebrating the area.