A charity formed to safeguard the future of one of King’s Lynn’s historic buildings has been “overwhelmed” by response countrywide to its vision brochure.
Shakespeare’s Guildhall Trust (SGT) chairman Ivor Rowlands said: “The publication of Our Vision has really captured the public’s imagination and we have been inundated with letters and positive messages in support of the Guildhall and in favour of SGT’s proposals.
“It’s been a real effort to respond to and deal with all of the enquires we have had.”
The brochure was sent to more than 600 addresses across the country and overseas and the trust said it had “sparked a flurry of correspondence with interested parties”.
“SGT believes that the money invested in producing and distributing Our Vision, outlining proposals for the Guildhall, represents the genuine desire by SGT trustees, sponsors and donors to see a positive outcome for this historic project, at which we will have only one attempt at getting right.
“An incorrect or ill-advised decision now will have repercussions on the town for decades to come,” said Mr Rowlands.
Support has also come from Michael Dobson, director of The Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Professor of Shakespeare Studies, University of Birmingham.
In an email to SGT he touched on the need for a partnership for the Guildhall with West Norfolk Council and said it was a building “for which a plausible application for World Heritage Site could easily be made”.
Mr Dobson gave examples of theatres in the country and said how Shakespearean theatres and others can attract “huge numbers of visitors” and contribute to local regeneration.
“The Guildhall is the real thing. For what it may be worth, the eyes of Shakespearean scholarship and theatre history are on King’s Lynn at present: it may well be up to you to decide whether a neglected Guildhall becomes a source of notoriety for the town, or whether a rejuvenated and intelligently managed Guildhall becomes a source of fame and prosperity,” he said.
Actor/writer Stephen Fry, who grew up in Norfolk, has backed the trust’s £6m vision to revitalise and regenerate the King Street arts complex and make it a heritage attraction, arts centre, education provider and a place to meet, eat and drink.
In the brochure, Mr Fry said he had fond memories of the St George’s Guildhall, Britain’s oldest working theatre and one where William Shakespeare performed, and said he hoped to create “many more in the future”.
The building is owned by the National Trust and leased to the borough council.
The vision brochure asked for support for regeneration of the whole site.
Find out more information at www.shakespearesguildhalltrust.org.uk