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Public meeting over future of Guildhall

PUBLISHED: 08:42 16 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:57 16 January 2019

Four of Shakespeare's Guildhall Trust trustees in St George's Guildhall. L to R: Nick Balaam, Ivor Rowlands, Veronica Sekules, Tim FitzHigham. Photo: Ivor Rowlands

Four of Shakespeare's Guildhall Trust trustees in St George's Guildhall. L to R: Nick Balaam, Ivor Rowlands, Veronica Sekules, Tim FitzHigham. Photo: Ivor Rowlands

Archant

Britain's oldest guildhall is a step closer to remaining a theatre in West Norfolk.

Shakespeare Guildhall Trust Trustee Tim FitzHigham in St George's Guildhall . Photo: Ivor RowlandsShakespeare Guildhall Trust Trustee Tim FitzHigham in St George's Guildhall . Photo: Ivor Rowlands

St George’s Guildhall has been a hall for hire since the King’s Lynn Arts Centre closed two years ago.

Lottery officials turned down an application for £2m to renovate the building, on King Street.

Now an anonymous benefactor has offered to fund turning the complex into an art gallery of national renown.

But campaigners fear that means the Guildhall’s theatre, where Shakespeare is said to have performed could close.

The Shakespeare’s Guildhall Trust, (SGT) was formed with the idea of developing the guildhall into a theatre and mixed arts venue.

It says it has held 
two positive meetings 
with owner the National Trust and West Norfolk council, which leases the building.

Trustee Tim FitzHigham said: “It’s great, there’s so much common ground between the SGT and the council.

“In particular, we are in full agreement of the need to attract international interest on the back of the Shakespeare connection to the oldest theatre in England.”

During the meeting it was discussed that the way forward would be to have the guildhall site complex to work together including the restaurant, cafe, workshops and the theatre.

Mr FitzHigham added: “The problem of access is one of our first priorities – both for audiences and performers. For the Guildhall to serve the whole community we need to ensure everyone has equal access. I believe this is vital. We have already commenced discussions with the West Norfolk Disability Information Service and are working with them to ensure access and comfort issues for all are considered from the outset.”

A public meeting is being held at the guildhall on Sunday, January 27 (2pm), where the trustees will set out their intentions for the building and answer any queries.

Mr FitzHigham said: “Anyone who has an interest in the Guildhall – in entertainment, performance, music, art, culture, heritage, Kings Lynn and Norfolk as a whole should come along and have their say - this is your chance to tell us what you’d like to see happen at the Guildhall – so we can take everyone’s views into account as we develop our plans in detail.”



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