Trust’s plan for King’s Lynn Arts Centre galleries is approved

Council leaders last night agreed an independent trust could take over the running of the galleries at King's Lynn Arts Centre.

Proposals to allow the newly-formed King's Lynn Arts Centre Trust to take over much of the historic complex were approved by West Norfolk council's cabinet.

Council leader Nick Daubney explained: 'Discussions have been really constructive.

'We've been able to work closely with this group to help them refine their proposals and we are now satisfied that our budget savings will be made and the operation of the galleries will be maintained. 'It really does go to show what can be achieved when there is a will for local people to get involved in providing services such as the arts.

'We've been impressed by the sheer force of talent, goodwill and drive that this group has shown and their determination to maintain the galleries.'

Anger erupted last year at proposals to move the galleries to Lynn Town Hall, as part of a shake-up of council-run arts venues to save on running costs.

The Guidhall Theatre above the galleries now operates as a hall for hire and the Princesss Theatre at Hunstanton is independently-run.

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There were protests among the arts community, with artists calling for the galleries to stay put.

Mr Daubney agreed to give the emerging trust two months to come up with a rescue plan, which was last night approved by councillors.

If approved by the full council on February 24, the King's Lynn Arts Centre Trust will lease the Shakespeare Barn, Red Barn and Fermoy Gallery.

Peter Borrmann, spokesman for the trust, said: 'We are delighted that Cabinet has agreed that a new charitable trust can take on the running of the King's Lynn Arts Centre.

'This has been achieved thanks to the fantastic support and pledges of the general public, the press, local artists, art groups and potential sponsors.

'We are planning an enhanced programme of events for the public and local artists, and will continue with the excellent exhibitions, educational and outreach work currently organised by the arts centre staff.

'This really is a Big Society project. We've achieved our aim of keeping the art galleries functioning in their current location, and whilst the council is providing grant funding and leasing us the building, we will still need a considerable amount of money to operate the centre.'

Mr Borrman said anyone wishing to make a donation, become a friend of the galleries or discuss sponsorship could call him on 01553 674896.