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Surrey Performing Arts Library – A New Beginning with NewSPAL

What is the New Surrey Performing Arts Library (NewSPAL)?

Like many local authorities, Surrey County Council has been running a performing arts library for its residents, including hiring out multiple sets of plays, often used by drama reading groups, youth theatres and amateur theatre groups (in that case mostly for research prior to production – for the real thing, it’s obviously better to own a copy and be able to scribble all over it…)

The collection in Surrey, which also includes a vast amount of sheet music in constant demand from the hundreds of choirs and instrumental groups in the county, is one of the largest in England. 18 months ago, it was seriously threatened with closure.

Sadly, there is nothing new about that: many local authorities are struggling with significant budget reductions, so a performing arts library, a non-statutory service, is often an early contender for cuts. In Surrey, residents, whilst sympathetic to their council’s plight, were not prepared to see this collection be either dispersed or closed and so have fought to take on responsibility for the performing arts library themselves.

A new, user-led charity was set up in January 2018 and finally, in February 2019, Surrey County Council agreed that NewSPAL would be allowed to set up a new performing arts library and receive the collection (on loan until ownership can be permanently transferred).

Hurrah! However, that isn’t where the work ends – it’s where it starts! Woking Borough Council have already offered premises to house the new facility free of charge. Whilst waiting for the building to be made ready, NewSPAL has to raise funds for the transition (and to stay afloat until income can be generated) and transfer the entire collection of over 200,000 items to a new online catalogue, employ specialist librarians and more.

So how can you help? 

  • Please spread the word amongst all your contacts, and not just in Surrey: the new facility will be available to users registering from anywhere in the UK.
  • Donate or fundraiseso that NewSPAL can get up and running! 60% of our £125,000 target has already been raised – help us get to the finish line!
  • Sign up as a volunteer– the more people offer to help, the shorter the volunteer shiftswill be, so even if you only have a day here and there, or a few hours on a Thursday morning once a month, we’d love to hear from you!

You can find out more at or email Victoria Taylor, the Transition Project Manager, to be added to the mailing list on

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