JENNY ECLAIR DESPAIRS AT THE LOSS OF LOCAL LIBRARIES

Camberwell comedian Jenny Eclair despairs at Lambeth council closing two local libraries, but praises the modern miracle of crowdfunding…

So, 10 years ago the phrase ‘crowdfunding’ was unfamiliar, we hadn’t heard of Kickstarter and if you needed a pile of cash then you either went to the bank or your nearest and dearest.

Fast-forward a decade and anything and everything can be crowdfunded via social media, although the arts (for whom the cuts have been most vicious) might seem to be the most needy.

And it works. In 2013 over five billion dollars were generated globally. On a much tinier scale,
my daughter had a play successfully crowdfunded last year and, as a result, is now a bona fide writer with reviews and award nominations under her belt. Without the financial help of a lot of people, she could still be struggling to get her career off the ground.

In 2013 over five billion dollars were generated globally through crowdfunding. Such is the power of techno philanthropy 

My inbox is stuffed daily with requests to ‘chip in’ and help projects into lift-off mode: an indie film about trafficked Nepalese circus performers; a reversible swimwear range; a book about Soviet sanatoriums…

How many of these projects crash and burn I have no idea, but I do know that a popular comedian friend of mine recently raised £100,000 to film six episodes of a sketch show, free of the restraints of any broadcasting company.

Such is the power of techno philanthropy, and while I think it’s a brilliant and necessary thing, I’m not sure it’s always the right solution.

Last month I found myself donating cash to save a child’s paddling pool in Ruskin Park (Lambeth Council was threatening to close it due to cash restraints). The public stepped in and raised the requisite £5,000, but what about next year and the year after that?

What has gone so wrong with a council’s budget that in an area where houses cost around the million-pound mark, they cannot afford a few inches of water for kids to splash about in?

Lambeth has closed two local libraries while Southwark has opened a new one opposite a vastly improved children’s playground

For some reason, Lambeth has also closed two local libraries – the Carnegie in Herne Hill and the Minet in Camberwell – both within walking distance of the Loughborough Junction estates.

This is so profoundly depressing for anyone who thinks, as I do, that reading and swimming are the two bastions of a civilized society. I know you can’t swim in a paddling pool, but it’s an introduction to getting wet outside of a bath and therefore the first step to swimming.

Meanwhile, over in Southwark, we have a brand new, gorgeously designed little library bang-slap opposite the vastly improved Camberwell Green children’s playground.

I am clueless when it comes to answering the question about how council budgets should be spent, but I do know that investing in places for young and old to engage in their community is vital, so three cheers
to Southwark and a big boo to Lambeth.

On a more cheerful note, I have finished my 50-date solo tour of How to Be a Middle Aged Woman (Without Going Insane), which has not been without drama. Honestly, I’ve never known a tour so plagued by viruses. First I got the fluey thing complete with the chest infection and then I got the Noro. I tell you, anyone who thinks that show business is glamorous has never gigged with a plastic washing up bowl strategically placed in the wings ‘just in case’!

READ MORE

THE CAMPAIGN TO REOPEN THE CRYSTAL PALACE SUBWAY

THE IMPORTANCE OF BOOKS IN EARLY CHILDHOOD

JENNY ECLAIR CONTEMPLATES MOVING TO MARGATE

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