Waiting game for Wymondham Arts Centre plans

A fledgling arts venue is looking to secure its long-term future as part of plans to bring an historic chapel into the 21st century.

A fully-booked third season at Wymondham Arts Centre will begin at the weekend with an exhibition from a Norfolk-based, internationally renowned artist.

Officials are already turning their attentions to bookings for next year at Becket's Chapel and hope to begin an extension project at the Grade I listed former library the year after. But the scheme is dependent on the owners of the 12th century building, in Church Street, granting a longer term lease to enable Wymondham Arts Forum to progress the plans.

Proposals have been drawn up to enlarge the gallery and performance space and install new lighting and heating systems, and upgrade toilet and kitchen facilities at the centre, which last year received more than 14,000 visits.

Arthur Lucas, chairman of Wymondham Arts Centre's steering group, said the chapel was currently leased on a year-by-year basis from the Old Grammar School Foundation and a request for a more permanent arrangement had been made.

'We are full for this year and we already have expressions of interest for next year. The best solution will be to close in 2013 for a renovation. If we were to apply for funding now, funding bodies would not give it to us unless we had a long-term tenure and that may not be in the best interests of the current owners and they have to consider the options. It really is in their court at the moment and we are waiting for them,' he said.

The arts centre's third season will open tomorrow and will end in late November.

Most Read

Mr Lucas added that the venue was becoming more popular.

'We did not have to advertise the space this year and people approached us so there was a little bit of competition for space and time,' he said.

Artist Maz Jackson, who is based at East Harling, is staging an exhibition of her gilded paintings and sculptures until April 10 to launch the new season. The Norfolk woman has paintings in permanent gallery collections in Beijing, Bologna and Florence and her 2011 schedule includes exhibitions in Barcelona, Bologna and a solo show at the Basilica di San Lorenzo, Florence.

'I am very pleased that Wymondham Art's Centre invited me to launch its 2011 season. It is wonderful to be revealing my new work so close to home, as I draw much of my inspiration from the Norfolk countryside. It is also heart-warming to get recognition in my own backyard,' she said.

For more information, visit www.wymondhamarts.com

Don't miss Going Out for the latest arts events in the city and beyond.