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St George's Guildhall in King's Lynn could be revitalised into a gallery complex

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St George's Guildhall in Lynn could be revitalised after a charity came forward with an approach to turn it into a gallery complex.

The initial proposal, which came from a charity created by a local investor, who wishes to remain anonymous, to revitalise the listed building and create a gallery of national and international significance have been favourably received by West Norfolk Council.

King's Lynn Arts Centre - St George's Guildhall. (3156604)
King's Lynn Arts Centre - St George's Guildhall. (3156604)

Talks are still at an early stage and collaboration with the National Trust and the Arts Council, as well as the council and others is needed, if the charitable trust is to secure the long-term future of the historic venue.

The charity also wants to see the building contribute in a more meaningful way towards the town's overall cultural and artistic offer, and would support and work with those in the King's Lynn Festival to achieve this.

West Norfolk Council's cabinet member for culture, heritage and health, Elizabeth Nockolds said: “This is a really exciting opportunity and we are keen to help in anyway we can.

"The proposal that has been suggested could result in a nationally and internationally significant gallery being created in King’s Lynn that will not only secure the venue’s future, but also attract tourism into the town.

“The information and data we have gathered from the informal working group will help inform the proposals.

"The council will also look at what else can be done within the town to meet the needs of various stakeholders identified through this work.”

Ms Nockolds went on to confirm that a reconfiguration of the Corn Exchange should accommodate events that may not be accommodated in the Guildhall in the future.

A further option, suggested by the the Guildhall working group, is to make use of the underused space upstairs in the Corn Exchange to create two further cinema screens for the town. This would enhance the overall cinema offer in the town.

Chair of Discover King's Lynn, Darren Taylor said: "The King’s Lynn BID welcomes the news of this investment for the Guildhall. It is an exceptional building and has the potential to sit right at the heart of our town centre offering.

"As the role of town centres continues to change and adapt, we must offer visitors a true destination experience to compete with other towns in the east as well as the ever-increasing growth of internet shopping.

"This project could be truly transformational and we look forward to working closely with the borough council and the new charitable trust to ensure the best result for town centre businesses and visitors alike."

A Corn Exchange spokesman said they "welcome the opportunity to work with the council in the early stages of this project to assess the feasibility of such an undertaking".

They said: "The trust is keen to work with the council in consulting with our user groups and the wider community in assessing the demand for such a project to ensure that it complements the primary use of the venue which is live theatre.

"Whilst Alive Leisure always strives to support development and innovation we also fully acknowledge that the Corn Exchange is an integral part of the local cultural offer in West Norfolk and so feel that it is essential that the local community has the opportunity to help shape any plans for the future development of this community resource."

Discussions are at a very early stage so there will be no changes to the current arrangements until December 2019.

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