Published: Friday, 20th July 2018
The future of the St George’s Guildhall complex has taken a dramatic turn with an approach from a charity created by a local investor, who wishes to remain anonymous.
Initial proposals to revitalise the listed buildings and create a gallery of national and international significance have been favourably received by the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk.
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. In additional to the gallery, the charity would also want to see the buildings 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.
Cllr Elizabeth Nockolds, Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk cabinet member for Culture, Heritage and Health, 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.”
She 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.
Darren Taylor, Chair of Discover King's Lynn, 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."
Discussions are at a very early stage so there will be no changes to the current arrangements until December 2019.