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Latest news on the Surrey Performing Arts Library review

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September 2019

In February, Surrey County Council Cabinet's made the decision to transfer the Performing Arts collection to the charity NewSPAL. Since then, the library service has been working with NewSPAL to prepare for the transfer from Ewell Library to NewSPAL's new location in Woking early next year.

NewSPAL needs the help and input from users and potential users so they can make the best decisions about the way the new service will work and they will be holding two user consultation events, one in Redhill and one in Guildford, in September and October. Further details on how to book for these events can be found on NewSPAL's webpage.

26 February 2019

At their 26 February meeting Surrey County Council's Cabinet approved NewSPAL as the organisation to offer a Performing Arts Library service to the public.

The Cabinet approved 6 recommendations which mean that the library service will now start work with NewSPAL on ensuring a smooth transfer.

The collection and equipment will be passed to NewSPAL on a conditional loan basis for a transitional period of around 2 years. During this time NewSPAL will regularly report on its progress against an agreed set of performance measures. Surrey County Council Cabinet will take a decision on the unconditional transfer at the end of the transitional period.

Continuing the work we have already been doing together, Surrey Libraries and NewSPAL will shortly start the discussions to determine how and when Ewell Library's Dance, Drama, Music Resources and Services will be transferred to NewSPAL and their new premises.

The full set of recommendations approved by the Cabinet are below.


1. That NewSPAL use the current SPAL collection and equipment, to offer a Performing Arts Library service to the public be approved.

2. That authority be delegated to the Director of Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture in consultation with the Cabinet Member for All Age Learning to finalise the phased transfer of the collection and equipment on a conditional basis for a transitional period in anticipation of a final unconditional transfer and gifting of the collection and equipment.

3. That the responsible officer agree a set of performance measures with NewSPAL throughout the transition period in order to evaluate progress and performance and inform the final decision by the Council on the transfer.

4. That approval be given for officers to report on progress to the Cabinet Member for All Age Learning and set a deadline for completion of the lease negotiations between NewSPAL and Woking Borough Council that is appropriate with the transition period.

5. That approval is given to the responsible officer to report annually on progress towards the final transfer to the Cabinet Member for All Age Learning.

6. That Cabinet will review progress in the Summer of 2021 with the final decision on unconditional transfer and gifting of the collection and equipment to be taken by the Cabinet at the end of the transitional period.

February 2019

Our consultation regarding the Surrey Performing Arts Library and its proposed transfer to the charity NewSPAL has now closed. The final report on the consultation will be discussed at Surrey County Council's Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 26 February at 2pm.

December 2018

The Surrey Performing Arts Library and its proposed transfer to the charity NewSPAL

Following the move of the Surrey Performing Arts Library collection to Ewell Library in September, NewSPAL, a newly formed charity, have been working on their business plan for taking over the collection.

September 2018

As of 11 September the performing arts material has been successfully relocated from Surrey Performing Arts Library to its new home in Ewell Library, and Ewell Library is open once again. Library users are now able to browse and borrow the material from its new location.

This web site has been updated to reflect the move of the material and services to Ewell Library.

August 2018

Surrey Performing Arts Library has now closed its doors while the material is being relocated to its new home in Ewell Library.

Both Surrey Performing Arts and Ewell Libraries closed on 11 August to begin this project.

The planned relocation of the dance, drama, film and music collections to Ewell Library is now in progress and service will resume there at 9.30am on Tuesday 11 September 2018.

Please see below for the what this might mean for library users.

This web site is being updated to reflect the move of the material and services to Ewell Library.

July 2018

Since mid-2017, the Library service has been looking at how we can protect provision of material to support the performing arts throughout Surrey.

Surrey Performing Arts Library (SPAL) has been based in Denbies wine estate for many years. The more stringent financial situation that Surrey County Council faces means we have been working with several organisations to look at the future of SPAL. In March 2018 a charity, NewSPAL, was formed to investigate the possibility of taking on the operational responsibility for SPAL. After discussions at Surrey County Council meetings in November 2017 and February 2018, on 26 June 2018 the Cabinet approved the following recommendations.

  1. NewSPAL, a new charitable body, is invited and supported to prepare a comprehensive business plan to take on operational responsibility for SPAL
  2. That a report on the NewSPAL business plan be brought to Cabinet for decision in the Autumn 2018.

While the NewSPAL proposal is worked up in greater detail, to ensure the effectiveness, coherence and continuity of the service the collection will be relocated to Ewell Library. It is estimated that the relocation could be actioned by August 2018.

We will be keeping group and individual customers registered with Surrey Performing Arts Library informed of progress.

What happens now?

We are now planning the relocation of the dance, drama, film and music collections to Ewell Library and working hard to minimise disruption to users both of Surrey Performing Arts and Ewell Libraries.

At the same time we will be supporting NewSPAL by providing its trustees with technical advice and guidance where necessary to assist their development of a sustainable business plan. That plan will be submitted circa September 2018 for review and decision by Cabinet. The county council will not be making a financial contribution to the charity for set up or transitional costs.

In the event that the NewSPAL business plan is approved, after a transition period, Surrey County Council would have no financial responsibility for SPAL.

What does this mean for Ewell Library users?

You will find a new look library as the new stock is put in place. The layout is currently being finalised and you may see a change in the location of the self-service machines and a slight change of place for your favourite books. Pebble Rhymetime and other regular events will continue in the new layout.

Your choice of books in dance, drama, film and music will be hugely increased. If you are an amateur dramatic or play reading group, orchestra or choir you will be able to browse through hundreds of titles.

To fit in this remarkable material we will, however, have to close Ewell Library from 5pm, 11 August to 9:30am, 11 September.

What does this mean for Surrey Performing Arts Library users?

If you collect/return at a Surrey or West Sussex Library then your service will remain the same. If you usually collect/return at Denbies, then you may wish to do that at Ewell Library or choose another Surrey or West Sussex library as your new collection/return point.

We are asking groups to reserve their material now and collect before 1 August to make sure they have everything they need for their rehearsals in August and September. Performing Arts Library will be closed from 1pm, 11 August.

The way you contact the library may change. Some online systems will remain, so you can join and tell us about any change in group representatives. Unfortunately we will not be taking requests for music or play sets until 18 September, whilst the material and service is moved to Ewell Library. You can browse the stock at Ewell Library. To speak with us by telephone, you will need to go through our Contact Centre. If you have questions about this please email