North Norfolk arts charity set to close

Former Arts North Norfolk CEO Joseph Ballard. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Former Arts North Norfolk CEO Joseph Ballard. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

A north Norfolk arts charity is set to close just six months after its chief executive quit.

The Atrium at North Walsham High School. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The Atrium at North Walsham High School. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: � ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

Arts North Norfolk (ANN) staged events - including music, drama, and cinema - at venues large and small across the district.

It was set up three years ago and operated from the former Dragonfly women's fashion shop in the Market Place, North Walsham.

However, the organisation was rocked by the resignation of its CEO, Joseph Ballard, in September.

And, following an extraordinary general meeting last month, it has announced the 'only viable and appropriate course of action' now is to close.

A statement from the Trustees of The Atrium North Norfolk Ltd (Arts North Norfolk) said: 'It was with great sadness that we, the company directors (trustees), determined this to be our only viable and appropriate course of action given the financial and organisational uncertainty and outlook. The decision was taken in accordance with the procedures set out in our Articles of Association. It was not taken lightly and is binding.

'Following the sudden resignation of our CEO, Mr Joseph Ballard, in September 2016, we have worked extremely hard to sustain the charity in difficult circumstances with increasingly limited financial and human resources. The enormity of the task has been overwhelming – both emotionally and practically – and the obstacles are now, in our considered opinion, insurmountable.'

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The charity behind ANN had previously been based at the town's Atrium community arts building, adjoining North Walsham High School.

But The Atrium team decided to re-name themselves and move into the town centre to raise their profile and make it easier for people to find them.

ANN revealed it had tried to maintain a programme of theatre and concerts following Mr Ballard's resignation but had not held a licence to occupy the venue since January.

The statement continued: 'We have, with the invaluable help of a few dedicated volunteers, tried our very best to maintain a programme of theatre and concerts at The Atrium.

'Highlights include: a large and appreciative audience for the wonderful concert by Manchester Camerata in October; a full house for North Walsham Play's Ventriloquism fundraiser in January, for which we sold tickets and ran the bar on the night; and a very popular matinee screening of Bridget Jones' Baby in February.'

And it added: 'To those people that we have let down, we extend our sincere apologies.'

Mr Ballard did not explain why he was quitting last September but, commenting on the closure, this week he said: 'I'm very proud of what myself, the volunteers and the community had achieved.' And he added: 'North Walsham can and will continue to build upon those fantastic moments we created.'

Arts North Norfolk is expected to take six months to be wound up. All booking enquiries are being directed to lettings@nwhs.uk.

Neil Powell, head teacher at North Walsham High School, said: 'We are sad to hear of the closure of Arts North Norfolk, which has made a great contribution to the cultural life of North Walsham since it was set up.

'Arts North Norfolk is one of a number of community groups which make use of the school's Atrium facility, and I want to reassure those groups and the wider community that NWHS will continue to welcome such groups to the Atrium.

'Arts North Norfolk has been a focus for arts activity at the Atrium, but is not the only cultural organisation that uses the facility.

'We would like to encourage all community groups, including those with an arts focus, to join those already making use of the wonderful building we have here at the school, a building which is such an asset both for the students attending the school, and for the wider community.'

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