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‘Positive’ talks welcomed on Guildhall future in King's Lynn

By Lynn News Reporter

Campaigners seeking to save a historic Lynn theatre from potential closure claim they are making significant progress in their fight.

Members of the Shakespeare’s Guildhall Trust (SGT) say they have held “very positive” discussions with the owners and leaseholders of the St George’s Guildhall complex in recent days.

And a public meeting is due to be held at the site later this month for local people to get involved in the campaign.

The SGT launched its campaign last month, claiming the guildhall’s theatre - the oldest working theatre in Britain dating back to 1442 - was at risk of closure without urgent action.

But the group says the site’s owners, the National Trust, and West Norfolk Council, which currently holds the lease, have now agreed to work with them to help find a long term solution.

Trustee Tim FitzHigham said it was vital that all parties involved learn the lessons of why previous management structures at the King Street site failed.

King's Lynn Arts Centre - St George's Guildhall
King's Lynn Arts Centre - St George's Guildhall

He said the town could not afford another “boom and bust” project and indicated the trust could be prepared to manage the site in the longer term.

He said: “I don’t think any of them would be involved if they didn’t think they could run it.”

The SGT now plans to hold a public meeting at the Guildhall on Sunday, January 27 at 2pm to explain its ideas for the site.

The group says it also hopes to start booking events there soon and work is continuing on the development of its own business plan

Mr FitzHigham said the group had received support from both local people and the arts community nationally and internationally in recent weeks.

But he also insisted the backing of all those groups is essential to the site’s success in the future.

West Norfolk Council deputy leader Elizabeth Nockolds, who met the SGT last Thursday, yesterday said she was facilitating contact between the SGT and the anonymous benefactor who expressed interest in reviving the site last summer.

She said: “We had a very good discussion. He wants to work in partnershp with the people of King’s Lynn.

“It takes time to negotiate and move things forward but it is a positive story for the theatre.”

National Trust general manager Russell Clement said he had also been “glad” to meet the SGT.

He added: “We met with the council in December and so it is still very early days in our discussions and no plans have been finalised.

“We’re committed to working with the local community too and I look forward to staying in touch with the Shakespeare’s Guildhall Trust as we explore opportunities for the future.”


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