Messages of support for ousted St Albans Town Hall boss

ST ALBANS: Former Town Hall boss Joel Baillie-Lane has received messages of support from people he had been involved with there after finding himself locked out of the building last week.

Although STARTS, the St Albans Arts group which had taken over the running of the Town Hall in 2007, had decided to surrender the lease of the building, chief executive Mr Baillie-Lane was unaware that the district council had taken back the running of it until last Wednesday until he arrived at work.

He was prevented from entering the flagship city-centre building by bailiffs and was particularly concerned about the impact the switch of management would have on the Creative St Albans’ Big Project last Saturday which he had instigated.

In the event, the Big Project was a great success with nearly 2,000 people through the door on the day to enjoy numerous arts activities.

Mr Baillie-Lane said this week he was delighted with the messages he had received from people he had liaised with during his time at the Town Hall. “It’s fantastic to have this support because it makes everything I have strived for over the past two years seem worthwhile,” he said.

“Whilst running my own professional company, I have always had an interest in supporting the arts and I took on the Old Town Hall to try and fulfil a long-held belief that St Albans could improve its rather impoverished cultural base.

“I have learnt a great deal in my time at the Old Town Hall, firstly how difficult it is to curate a quality arts programme that satisfies the needs of the community on a very limited budget. Secondly what a fabulous venue the Old Town Hall is for so many activities both artistic and commercial.”

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He added: “I am truly sorry that my vision for the Old Town Hall to become a ‘hub’ of arts activity in St Albans has not been fulfilled.”

The district council will now run the building which is expected to be self-funding in the future.