Council hits back over fears for King's Lynn Guildhall site
“Considerable progress” has been made towards securing the future of a historic Lynn arts complex, despite fears for its future, council officials have claimed.
The comments come after a new campaign group called for public backing to protect the theatre at the St George’s Guildhall, which they fear could close as a result of the current process.
And they say one of the country’s best known comedy personalities has also offered his support.
The future of the King Street site has been in doubt ever since a multi-million pound bid for Heritage Lottery funding to renovate it was turned down last year.
Last week, the newly-formed Shakespeare’s Guildhall Trust launched an appeal for public support for its aim to preserve the near 600 year old theatre, where Shakespeare himself is said to have performed.
But, in a statement issued this week, West Norfolk Council said a new charity had been formed to pursue the vision for a prestigious gallery space first outlined when an anonymous benefactor came forward in the summer.
The authority also hit out at what it described as “recent negative comment” and “conspiracy theories” and said the charity was committed to ensuring performance art could continue to flourish there.
Council deputy leader Elizabeth Nockolds said: “Our ongoing discussions with this benefactor have proved to be really positive. We are extremely excited about the proposals that are being developed and welcome forthcoming consultation.
“Working in partnership with the charity that is being established will save the future of the complex while retaining its historic importance. This will enable the public to continue to enjoy the features of this complex into the future – something the council could not achieve alone.”
The Shakespeare trust says it will be meeting both the council and the National Trust in early January, as it continues work on its own vision for the venue.
Spokesman Tim FitzHigham said: “The Guildhall is such a special place and with its unique link to Shakespeare and many others holds the key to unlock a vast and exciting set of opportunities for King’s Lynn.
“The Borough Council, National Trust and Shakespeare’s Guildhall Trust remain committed to and agreed on that.”
The group says it has also received a message from popular comedian, and host of BBC satirical series Mock The Week, Dara O’Briain, backing their campaign.
He said: “It’s always a sad loss to a community to close a working theatre but to throw away 600 years of history would be a tragedy."