A range of ideas to breathe new life into the historic St George’s Guildhall complex in King’s Lynn were unveiled this week.
Suggested enhancements include improved gallery space, a small cinema, flexible theatre space and a new digital creative hub.
The ideas follow the formation in January of a working group set-up to explore regeneration options for the whole complex and were presented to West Norfolk councillors on Tuesday.
Cabinet member Elizabeth Nockolds said: “Recognising the benefits the complex could bring to the town in terms of cultural activity, social inclusion, community activities and its potential contribution to both the day and night time economy, we wanted plans which would enable a diverse range of arts-related activities which would attract people of all ages from all walks of life.
“We have a strong track record of investing in the culture and heritage of our town with enhancements to the two market places, the work at the town hall and Stories of Lynn, a full summer events programme and the forthcoming development of the riverside area.
“This work fits into our overall vision for the town as a place to live, work and visit.
“It has been good working with the group. Its approach has been very constructive and has placed a great deal of importance on consulting with users of the complex.
“The feedback gathered has been invaluable in formulating initial ideas, which was presented to the regeneration and environment panel on Tuesday.”
The working group has met a range of interested parties, gathered comments and feedback and explored options to provide a sustainable centre for the arts.
Councillor Avril Wright, who heads the group, said: “We felt it was important to update members at this point as we are about to start a new municipal year and membership of the regeneration and environment panel could change.
“We wanted to request the working group continues in its current form, to complete this work, regardless of any change in the make-up of the panel.”
Before going into a closed session, panel members received a presentation about a new cultural prospectus produced by an external specialist which has already led to some success for partners bidding for funding.
The working group said any scheme would have to be “commercially viable and sustainable”.
The next step will be to test viability by looking at potential business plans, investment, funding and possible layouts.
The group has said attracting day and night time use of the guildhall was a priority and also retaining theatre seating capacity.
A flat-floor option with some retractable seats is a possibility which would provide around 300 seats and allow traditional theatre, music shows, rehearsal, dance and conference space.
The addition of a small cinema could attract a range of art-house, foreign language films and mainstream productions.
Upgrading security and environmental controls of the gallery space to allow national and international collections is also seen by the group as vital.
The group has more work to do before a full report can be presented to the panel and members expect to report back later in the year.
Work to improve existing office space at the complex is already underway.