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Could empty seafront theatre become a Great Yarmouth Tate?

PUBLISHED: 16:10 08 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:10 08 November 2017

The Empire Theatre in Great Yarmouth.

Picture: James Bass

The Empire Theatre in Great Yarmouth. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2015

An empty seaside theatre has been touted as the possible home for a Great Yarmouth Tate.

The cavernous space at The Empire on Yarmouth’s Golden Mile would be ripe for conversion as an outpost gallery and be a magnet for visitors, it has been claimed.

The suggestion was one of several to come out of a cultural conference staged at St George’s Theatre.

People came from across the country to discuss the future of seaside theatres, hailing Yarmouth for its unrivalled collection of Victorian and Edwardian examples.

Organiser Hugh Sturzaker said: “Great Yarmouth is unique with a great heritage, has the best collection of Victorian and Edwardian Theatres in the country, has increasingly successful art and cultural events, and it is important that the organisers of the performing arts in the borough form stronger partnerships and work together.”

MORE: Great Yarmouth entertainment conference to be held

He said public/private partnerships could be the key to funding the refurbishment of empty theatres and that Great Yarmouth needed a major work of art to act as a magnet for visitors.

In discussions it was suggested the Empire Theatre could become the Great Yarmouth Tate and that the Winter Gardens could become a draw although the cost to rescue it was going to be very great and require major outside funding.

He said it was also agreed that theatres needed to be part of the community and had to listen and respond to the needs of the community.

MORE: New civic society hopes to develop a civic pride in Great Yarmouth

At the conference there was support for the town centre master plan but there was an urgent need to improve the general appearance of the town, particularly around lighting.

As a result of the conference many new links were made, he said.

The Great Yarmouth Cultural Heritage Partnership is organising a further meeting of those involved in running local theatres and performing arts to take the discussion forwards.

A range of speakers contributed including local historian David Mcdermott, circus impresario Jack Jay, and Dr Kathryn Ferry who spoke about the importance of finding viable new uses for theatres to prevent their decline.

Anyone interested in helping to drive improvements forward can join the newly formed Civic Society of Great Yarmouth via www.civicsocietyGY.co.uk.

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