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Progress being made towards new funding bid for St George's Guildhall, council chiefs say

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King's Lynn Arts Centre - St George's Guildhall (6468321)
King's Lynn Arts Centre - St George's Guildhall (6468321)

Progress is being made towards the submission of a new funding bid to renovate Lynn's St George's Guildhall, West Norfolk Council officials have said today.

The announcement follows recent discussions between the authority, which leases the King Street site, its owners, the National Trust, and the Shakespeare's Guildhall Trust (SGT) campaign group.

The future of the complex has been in question since a multi-million pound bid for Heritage Lottery funding was turned down two years ago.

But borough council executive director Chris Bamfield said they are now in a much stronger position and hope to submit a new expression of interest in funding later this year.

He said: "We have used the feedback from last time and now have in place a Cultural Prospectus which sets out our cultural strategy and vision for the area.

"We have a Cultural Strategy Board, which links us to key National Portfolio Organisations, including the Norfolk Museums Service. This will help guide the work we do.

"We have a locally-based Arts Council Relationship Manager who is keen to ensure the Arts Council England put funding into our area.

"We've also seen greater public engagement thanks to the efforts of the Shakespeare's Guildhall Trust. None of these existed at the time of our last bid.

"In addition we have commitment of investment from an anonymous investor. This would be a donation that would help support other funding bids."

Tim FitzHigham, of the Shakespeare's Guildhall Trust campaign group, said: "We have put forward a positive vision for the theatre and site as a whole, its management and to be a sustainable, secure business going forward. This is to benefit the people of King’s Lynn, the borough and nationally.

"This vision puts front and centre the key facts that this is the oldest working theatre in the UK and the only existing, still-working theatre that can claim to have hosted Shakespeare.

"It is great that these meetings are happening to ensure that the capital expenditure the Guildhall needs will be found and that this ongoing future can be achieved.

"To succeed all parties are going to have to work together, the Guildhall is a big project but it’s a challenge well worth taking up."

Russell Clement, of the National Trust, added: “The Guildhall is a very special building. Its continued conservation and place for visitors and local people to enjoy as an arts venue and theatre remains the priority for the National Trust.

"We look forward to working with the borough council and the Shakespeare's Guildhall Trust to seek the funding needed to create an exciting new community asset."

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