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Popular Diss Corn Hall arts venue set to reopen

PUBLISHED: 14:49 26 April 2017 | UPDATED: 14:50 26 April 2017

Diss Corn Hall is preparing to reopen after two years following a renovation project. These pictures show the Corn Hall during the refurbishment. Picture: LUCY KAYNE

Diss Corn Hall is preparing to reopen after two years following a renovation project. These pictures show the Corn Hall during the refurbishment. Picture: LUCY KAYNE

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The wait is nearly over for those eagerly anticipating the reopening of one of Diss’ most historic venues as a regeneration project nears its completion.

Diss Corn Hall is preparing to reopen after two years following a renovation project. These pictures show the Corn Hall during the refurbishment. Picture: LUCY KAYNE Diss Corn Hall is preparing to reopen after two years following a renovation project. These pictures show the Corn Hall during the refurbishment. Picture: LUCY KAYNE

Diss Corn Hall has been closed for two years while a series of improvements are created to modernise the Grade II Listed building, which was at risk of serious water damage and needed a major upgrade to its facilties.

When it is officially opened by Diss mayor Mike Bardwell on Friday, May 5, it is hoped the renovated 162-year-old building will bring in new audiences by being accessible in the daytime, as well as for evening events.

Angela Sykes, director of the Corn Hall, said: “The finished result is even better than we could have hoped for and, now that we’ll be open all day, we want everyone to come in and take advantage of all the new facilities on offer.

“Whether it’s during the day to catch a daytime film, to find out more about the history of the area or tourist information or to pop in for a relaxing coffee or bite of lunch - or in the evening for a drink and to enjoy one of our great evening shows - the Corn Hall welcomes you.”

Diss Corn Hall is preparing to reopen after two years following a renovation project. These pictures show the Corn Hall during the refurbishment. Picture: LUCY KAYNE Diss Corn Hall is preparing to reopen after two years following a renovation project. These pictures show the Corn Hall during the refurbishment. Picture: LUCY KAYNE

The main improvements include an extension housing the new entrance, box office, foyer, gallery, bar and cafe, which was designed by Norwich-based Hudson Architects and built by Pentaco Construction.

There will also be a new cafe - called Fredericks at the Corn Hall - open daily, along with a new bar run by Grain Brewery.

The tourist information centre will be housed at the Corn Hall and the main auditorium - the largest in South Norfolk, seating 300 - will have a motorised tiered seating system to seat over half a sell-out audience, underfloor heating and much improved acoustics.

Mr Bardwell said: “The Corn Hall is an outstanding facility. The restoration of the existing building together with the new modern extension blend perfectly to create a fantastic arts centre, cinema and venue for shows to suit all tastes.

Diss Corn Hall is preparing to reopen after two years following a renovation project. These pictures show the Corn Hall during the refurbishment. Picture: LUCY KAYNE Diss Corn Hall is preparing to reopen after two years following a renovation project. These pictures show the Corn Hall during the refurbishment. Picture: LUCY KAYNE

“This is a crucial development in attracting more visitors to the town, ensuring that the towns businesses and shops continue to thrive.

“The town council is extremely proud to have played such a significant role in this multi-faceted and important project which will have a long lasting legacy for the benefit of the people of Diss and the wider area and I encourage everyone to come and see the impressive changes.”

The Corn Hall renovation is the first phase of the major regeneration project in Diss’ Heritage Triangle, which will be completed over the next few months and includes remodelling the streetscape and building a new community garden and a boardwalk across the Mere.

The project has been made possible by a grant of £1.87m by the Heritage Lottery Fund, £880,000 from Diss Town Council, South Norfolk Council and Norfolk County Council and £125,000 by local residents and businesses, along with further grants from other national and local funders.

The Corn Hall’s reopening programme includes appearances by some famous faces, including Shappi Khorsandi and David Starkey.

Live screenings from the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House return, as does an ambitious exhibition programme.

Family fun continues with The Saturday Club each month and the ever-popular Comedy Club returns in June. July kicks off with a Beer, Gin and Rum Festival.

Later in the year, BBC Strictly’s professional dancers, Ian Waite and Camilla Dallerup, will take to the Corn Hall stage, whilei n December the venue will present its first professional pantomime, Aladdin.

The story of Diss will also be told by permanent and interactive displays in the Hall and an online heritage research facility available to all.

The Corn Hall’s varied history and fortunes will be the subject of its opening exhibition, accompanied by a talk by Professor Alun Howkins on May 16 entitled Corn, Criminals and Concerts reflecting facets of the Hall’s life.

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