New Wells Maltings project manager, Simon Daykin, confirms spring opening
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017
A former theatre executive director has been appointed general manager of a £5m arts development in Wells, at a 'pivotal time' for the project.
Simon Daykin, formerly of the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds, took on the newly-created role at the Wells Maltings project on August 21.
Mr Daykin spoke to us on day five of his new role, and said: 'While it's very early days, my reason for being here is to lead the organisation forward. We're in the midst of a major project, and the build is in the thick of it. Critically, my role is about making sure we open next spring.'
The North Norfolk arts, heritage and community centre is situated in a historic maltings building on Staithe Street, Wells.
Trustees of the project expect work to be completed, and the redevelopment to open in spring 2018, after entering an 'exciting phase' in 2017 as construction work commenced.
Read more: Have you seen how Wells Maltings will look?
Mr Daykin wouldn't commit to a date, but confirmed: 'We're aiming at opening in the spring. We're a little bit early at the moment to commit to an exact date, and I won't say March, April, or May at this stage, but we want to catch visitor season and start trading as soon as possible.'
'It's about getting under the skin of this vibrant community, and building something that everyone can be proud of.'
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'Any building work is fraught with potential pitfalls. We're past the early hurdles but of course there are still risks associated.
'The build is on track but we've got to do the technical equipment; the kitchens; get the tables and chairs in. It's been a huge and very bold undertaking, and I'm eternally grateful to our volunteers.
'I'm the right person to take this forward because I care about what I do; I'm experienced and passionate about art, heritage and the community.
'Wells deserves this. I believe that art and heritage are for everyone. If we're not engaging people, then we're not doing our jobs properly.'
The project has benefitted from money from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Coastal Communities Fund, the Garfield Weston Foundation, and the Foyle Foundation.
The trust have described Simon's appointment as coming at a 'pivotal time.' Trust chair, Peter Lynn, said: 'We are very pleased to have secured the services of such an experienced, capable and enthusiastic professional.'
History of the Wells malt house revealed as new revamp gets under way
The Maltings building in Wells is at the heart of the town.
The 19th century malt house is complete with a drying kiln and malting floors.
Production ceased in the early 20th century, as mechanised malting took over the industry.
The building has been used as an arts and community space for the last 40 years.
The Wells Maltings Trust's vision for the project is a conversion of the Grade II listed building into a year-round destination for artists, locals, and tourists, to serve as a cultural heart at the centre of the community.
It will include a museum, a major expansion of The Granary Theatre, a cafe, a viewing gallery overlooking the sea, and youth facilities.
Work on an extension to the building has also gone ahead, revealing heritage architecture including uncovered roof beams and iron support columns that date back to the late 1800s when the building was in use as a working malt house.
Open call to East Anglian artists for Wells heritage project
The Wells Maltings project has called on East Anglian artists to submit sculptures for a new heritage art trail.
The exhibition, titled 'People of the Shore and Sea' will run for a year with a prize of £1,000 going to the winning artist.
It will be part of the opening event calendar for the Wells Maltings in spring 2018.
The exhibit will be professionally curated with works on display from March 2018 to April 2019, in Wells-next-the-Sea.
A wide range of creative responses to the brief are encourgaed, with possibilities such as: soundscapes, stained glass, woven reeds, artfully illuminated heritage buildings, biodegradable works, or permanent displays.
Artists are asked to create works in response to Wells' local heritage and culture with stories from the town serving as inspiration behind the project. These could range from stories of the lifeboat disaster, the life of a whelker, or roles of women.