Guarded support for St George’s Guildhall plan
Arts groups in Lynn have given a cautious welcome after new proposals for the future of the St George’s Guildhall complex were outlined.
Last week, council chiefs revealed an anonymous benefactor had approached them with plans to develop the site as a gallery of national and international significance.
Discussions are still at an early stage and officials say there will not be any change to current arrangements until at least the end of next year.
But the announcement came during the annual King’s Lynn Festival, of which the Guildhall is hosting 14 events.
In a statement, the festival’s board said it was “cautiously optimistic”, about the new scheme.
They added: “The Guildhall is of significant importance to our national cultural heritage not just in terms of its bricks and mortar but more particularly in terms of its use as a venue for a wide variety of arts events including drama and dance, and especially music.
“Over the last 68 years the Festival has presented many world-famous artists on the Guildhall stage and we feel this is an ideal opportunity to cement Lynn’s position as a cultural centre of not just national, but also international, importance, for the future.”
Council officials say the new trust is keen to work with festival organisers in an effort to enhance the town’s cultural and artistic offer.
They also suggested that a reconfiguration of the Corn Exchange should accommodate events that may not be accommodated in the Guildhall in the future, while additional cinema screens in the Corn Exchange may also be an option.
But Chris Fox, chairman of the King’s Lynn Players, said they still want a theatre presence to remain.
He said: “We welcome the fact that the council has been working to secure the Guildhall’s future and the likelihood of significant investment through a newly established charitable trust.
“The council is also in dialogue with us to offer alternatives for our workshop and performance venue. However, we have consistently lobbied the council for the theatre to continue in the complex and we remain committed to pursue this.
“We hope to have the opportunity to demonstrate that there is room to incorporate a theatre into future plans. We remain hopeful and positive and look forward to further dialogue with the council in the coming months.”