A recent flurry of comments on an old post reminded us to take a look at what’s happening at Charlton House. The answer – if the website and Greenwich Time are to be believed – is ‘almost nothing’.
At the time of writing the website was showing this for ‘What’s On in June':
(There is mention of Friday lunchtime concerts and baby rhyme time elsewhere on the site, though).
The Facebook pages and Twitter feed are updated sporadically – but with little interaction with followers – and events are included in Greenwich Time’s listing section occasionally (nothing this week, though); the council’s website is similarly low on information (the events page’s drop-down ‘what’s on where’ menu doesn’t include Charlton House as a venue). So how, without calling in, does a local resident find out what’s going on at Charlton House?
In contrast to this, a short walk over the border into SE3, Mycenae House have been doing a great job of raising the profile of their events: a smartly-designed leaflet through locals’ doors (including into Charlton), a revamped website (compare and contrast with Charlton House’s website, which focuses heavily on pictures of empty blue chairs…), a refurbished bar/cafe, and a range of music and comedy nights that are pulling the punters in.
It’s arguable that Charlton House’s Listed status places limitations on how it can be used, but this doesn’t seem to have presented a problem down the road in Bexley: Hall Place offers an excellent case study in what can be done to bring a property of this sort to life (and their social media efforts show how event marketing and audience engagement can be done successfully at this level).
Of course, the internet isn’t everything, and we know that Charlton House does get used. But if the comments we’ve seen here and on our Facebook page are anything to go by, there’s a demand for Charlton House to be more than a few dusty meeting rooms and a nice wedding venue. We know that plans to spin it off into its own heritage trust were stymied, and are waiting to hear more about the plans for a borough-wide heritage trust to emerge. In the meantime, who’s speaking up for Charlton House? Can it get more than the bare minimum of attention from the council’s events and marketing team?
One possible sign of optimism is that Charlton ward’s newly-elected councillor Miranda Williams has been appointed member for cultural and creative industries in the council’s new cabinet; hopefully she’ll be able to remind her colleagues that there’s more to the cultural life of the borough than what happens in Greenwich town centre or Woolwich’s General Gordon Square (or onboard Tall Ships, for that matter).
We’d love to hear our councillors’ vision for the venue, and we’d love to hear what other users and readers think of the current offering – and what they’d like to see. Get in touch, or let us know in the comments below!