Secret Cinema founder announces plans to take over empty Croydon department store

An artist’s impression of the refurbished Allders store in Croydon (PR document)

The Secret Cinema founder said ‘the future of art is on the high street’ as he announced plans to turn an empty Croydon department store into an arts center and hall.

Fabian Riggall has taken over the historic Allders building to launch his new project called LOST, which aims to regenerate failing high streets and shops into arts and entertainment districts.

The entrepreneur, whose Secret Cinema events draw thousands of spectators for immersive screenings of classic films such as Dirty Dancing, has partnered with The Croydon Partnership and Croydon Council as part of their master plan to regenerate the southern town from London.

He said: “LOST is a group of artists, thinkers and creators who seek to take over old shopping centers around the world to design new cultural districts that will become LOST CITY.

“We will showcase new forms of art and entertainment alongside reimagined retail experiences. To get lost is to get lost in art, beyond digital culture, where we can connect to the real world, to deeper and more meaningful stories.

“The future of art is on the high street, in the department stores, in the boutiques where we can experiment with new ideas while connecting in real life with real people. We are delighted to work with the local community to develop a rich and diverse program while welcoming artists from around the world. We will also be working closely with the Croydon Partnership and Croydon Council to develop our first lost neighborhood in Allders, the beautiful former department store. We encourage all artists who wish to get involved to contact us.

Created in 2007, Secret Cinema offers film screenings in abandoned buildings in London and fuses film, music, art, theater and dance.

Allders dates its beginnings to 1862 when Joseph Allder opened his first store in Croydon and the business grew increasingly in the 20th century, with the Croydon store becoming a South London landmark and the company owning department stores across the country until its decline and eventual closure in 2013.

Croydon will be the London Borough of Culture next year with local artists joined by international talent to deliver 12 months of events celebrating the region.