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King’s Lynn’s The Workshop celebrates five years of being at New Conduit Street base helping young people with creative arts





Have you ever walked through Lynn’s Vancouver Quarter and wondered what goes on inside The Workshop?

The bright pink-coloured building which was previously a bank now houses a team of people who aim to help children and young people in West Norfolk through the love of the creative arts.

The charity works with around 300 people a week and runs a number of projects aimed at increasing the confidence of younger people who may not get that encouragement at home, or giving them the opportunity to take part in acting and dancing performances.

Venue manager Megan Fox and CEO Adam Taylor inside The Workshop
Venue manager Megan Fox and CEO Adam Taylor inside The Workshop

It also works with the Purfleet Trust, giving service users the opportunity to take part in weekly creative activities from writing poetry to painting for wellbeing.

The Workshop hosts the Vision Norfolk Choir, where blind and visually impaired people come together to sing to combat social isolation.

The charity also works with King’s Lynn Academy.

The portrait wall inside The Workshop
The portrait wall inside The Workshop

After marking five years of working with children and young people in West Norfolk in their venue on New Conduit Street, CEO Adam Taylor and venue manager Megan Fox have shared some of their favourite memories as well as some upcoming plans.

“We were established in 2004 by Norwich Theatre Royal and Peter Wilson, who died last year and lived near West Acre, he also helped to establish West Acre Theatre,” said Adam.

He added: “Over the past 10 years after the charity was set up, we grew and established a cultural identity which was much more than anybody has ever anticipated.

“We had a real purpose of working with children and young people facing challenging circumstances. We were asked to join a consortium by the National Lottery Community Foundation alongside the Benjamin Foundation, YMCA and the Swan Project.

One of the spaces used by groups in The Workshop One of the spaces used by many groups in The Workshop
One of the spaces used by groups in The Workshop One of the spaces used by many groups in The Workshop

“The National Community Foundation has established a fund, with the department for culture, media and sport. This means we could have the site here.”

Since moving into the former RBS bank, staff at The Workshop have made plenty of finishing touches to make the space feel like home, including a portrait wall where members can draw themselves.

The Workshop is the sister of The Garage based in Norwich, a performing arts hub in the city.

The base in Lynn opened in December 2019 but faced challenges shortly after during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Inside the WOW bus
Inside the WOW bus

“That process was horrific for cultural entities, we were some of the first to close and the last to open, There were concerns around particles in the air from singing and playing instruments as well as social distancing,” Adam said.

“Our intention for this location has always been that it will be a temporary space for us, but after five years, it feels less temporary and like we needed to do something about it looking like an old bank.”

Most recently, The Workshop has bought a double-decker bus to Lynn that travels up and down the country to promote gender equality.

A peek inside one of the Workshop's studios
A peek inside one of the Workshop's studios

The WOW bus parked up on the Tuesday Market Place last Wednesday and was open to any intrigued passers-by to take part in a number of activities.

Inclusion and engagement officer for The Workshop Natalie Songer said: “You can choose your own experience on the bus and stay on for a maximum of 45 minutes.

“Inside is a library, a recording studio, a craft area and there is a podcast that people can contribute to. This is a girls' festival bus, but all genders are welcome.”

The Workshop bought the WOW Girls Festival bus to the Tuesday Market Place
The Workshop bought the WOW Girls Festival bus to the Tuesday Market Place

It is not the first exciting event organised by The Workshop. Reflecting on the past five years, Megan said: “We bought a piece of international European street performance into Lynn on Trafalgar night last year.

“We performed across the town with performers from Italy. We worked with local young performers to develop parts of the show. During the half term performers spent the week working with international artists learning songs and rehearsing.”

Adam added: “One of my highlights was a Christmas party that we ran in conjunction with the Purfleet Trust. We were running a design project with those experiencing homelessness.

WOW girls festival workers with young girls enjoying exploring the bus
WOW girls festival workers with young girls enjoying exploring the bus

“We had a poetry throwdown event and had a series of gentlemen who have experienced homelessness and some had written a series of haikus that they were reading out.

“It was incredible writing haikus with them and having a giggle while we were doing it.”

The performance took place around the Custom House and the Lynn Minster.

Inside Lynn's The Workshop
Inside Lynn's The Workshop

Megan added: “The response was tremendous from families and friends of performers, but also people who stumbled across us and followed the rest of our journey.”

The Workshop works closely with West Norfolk Council – which Adam has said to have been “helpful and supportive”.

A total of 25 weekly classes take place at The Workshop, some are available for anybody to attend, while others require a referral.

Adam emphasised how rewarding it is to work with young people who have been referred to The Workshop.

“The work we do will really make a meaningful difference in a young person’s life. It has increased confidence, increased aspiration and really changed their outlook on things.

“It's not about coming to a drama class because someone wants to become an actor or a tap dancer. It is about having the confidence to apply for a course at the College of West Anglia, believing in yourself, or applying for an apprenticeship.

“This might not come from a family dynamic, or that person may be a young carer or come from a family where a bereavement has happened, so we’re not talking about those naughty boys or girls.

“Our little charity can make a huge difference in those people’s lives.”

For more information about The Workshop and how to join in with one of their many classes, visit their website or pop in their base on New Conduit Street.

Got a story? Email newsdesk@lynnnews.co.uk



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