OPEN Norwich could become East Anglia’s biggest entertainment venue

Chief executive officer John Gordon-Saker reveals plans for expansion at OPEN Norwich. Picture : ANT

Chief executive officer John Gordon-Saker reveals plans for expansion at OPEN Norwich. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

A city centre youth charity hub has got ambitious plans to become the biggest entertainment venue in East Anglia.

Chief executive officer John Gordon-Saker reveals plans for expansion at OPEN Norwich. Picture : ANT

Chief executive officer John Gordon-Saker reveals plans for expansion at OPEN Norwich. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

The OPEN Youth Trust, which runs OPEN Norwich on Bank Plain, is set to put forward six-figure sum proposals to increase the capacity in the building's banking hall to Norwich City Council next month.

And, if approved, the large area in the Grade II listed building would be able to hold 1,800 people, compared with 1,450 it currently holds, during standing events.

The changes would also allow for 800 people during seated attractions, compared with 500 it currently holds.

John Gordon-Saker, chief executive officer for OPEN Norwich, said: 'It would make us the biggest venue in East Anglia. We will be able to attract bigger bands, bigger conferences and bigger banquets.

Chief executive officer John Gordon-Saker reveals plans for expansion at OPEN Norwich. Picture : ANT

Chief executive officer John Gordon-Saker reveals plans for expansion at OPEN Norwich. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017


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'It will increase our capacity and generate revenue so we don't have to rely on other trust funds or Big Lottery grants.

'We [the charity] want to be in a position where the building pays for everything that we do and by increasing the capacity and revenue, we can fund things more quickly.'

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OPEN Youth Trust was set up in 2005 to provide opportunities for young people in Norfolk, including those who are most disadvantaged.

Some 3,000 people aged 7-25 benefit from the charity each year which is funded by commercial operations at its city centre base through live music and gin festivals.

Chief executive officer John Gordon-Saker reveals plans for expansion at OPEN Norwich. Picture : ANT

Chief executive officer John Gordon-Saker reveals plans for expansion at OPEN Norwich. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

It also hires out its six meeting rooms to businesses and individuals as a source of income.

Dozens of youngsters aged 11-19 attend its after school and Saturday drop-in sessions, as well as holiday clubs.

Trained staff teach youngsters life skills and build their confidence through various activities including wall climbing, video editing and cookery via its Your Life project.

Young offenders or youngsters at risk of committing crime can also learn about discipline and self-control through the OPEN Norwich gym, also open to the public.

Mr Gordon-Saker described OPEN Norwich as a 'multi-purpose landmark building for Norwich' which was 'critical' for the youth charity.

If the plans are approved they will be paid for by trust funds.

Wedding boost for venue

Loved-up couples will be able to say, 'I do', at the historic and grand OPEN Norwich hub.

The city centre building has a wedding licence, meaning any kind of non-religious ceremony can be held at the venue.

OPEN Norwich chief executive officer, John Gordon-Saker, said: 'Each of the rooms is stunning and has a 1920s style.

'What the venue lends itself to is quirky and unusual weddings. We can dress up the venue however people want it.

'It will be a major revenue stream for us - it could represent about 25pc of our revenue.

'People are saying it is going to be a totally different type of venue which gives couples different options, which is good. There are also so many different rooms in the building.'

Mr Gordon-Saker said the space, which boasts digital sound for live bands, was flexible with the capacity for between 60 and 500 people.

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