More than £2m could be spent on King’s Lynn Arts Centre

The King's Lynn Arts Centre closes is doors after 60 years. Picture: Matthew Usher.

The King's Lynn Arts Centre closes is doors after 60 years. Picture: Matthew Usher.

More than £2m could be spent on the redevelopment of King's Lynn Arts Centre – but local groups have expressed concerns over a proposal to slash the number of seats in its historic theatre.

Council officials will today hear more details of plans to draw up a bid for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

In December 2015, the Arts Trust was forced to close the King Street gallery space, which hosted events, educational workshops and exhibitions, due to its financial position. But the St George's Guildhall remained a hall for hire.

A report, released ahead of today's meeting, broadly estimates necessary work could cost £2.25m and suggests West Norfolk Council could contribute up to £600,000.

It outlines intentions to remove the existing fixed seating and sloping floor of the Guildhall to allow multi-use of the space, but which could reduce the number of seats from 350 to 200.

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Alison Croose, chairman of the King's Lynn Festival, which relies on the use of the Guildhall, said: 'It's important to us and it's important to the amateur dramatic societies because they can't afford to use the Corn Exchange. Using the Corn Exchange doesn't work for them because they can't attract a big enough audience to meet the high cost of the venue.'

She added: 'It is a local gem which has got to be restored.'

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Ros Ridley, chairman of the West Norfolk Gilbert and Sullivan Society which uses the Guildhall yearly, said they would have to hire the space for longer to accommodate audience numbers if seating was cut.

But she added plans outlined in the report to make the auditorium more accessible to wheelchair users would be welcomed.

A council spokesman said a decision had not yet been made on the seating arrangements and a solution would be worked out through discussions with user groups.

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