Waiting game over future of Wymondham Arts Centre
14:00 25 April 2012
Plans to boost Wymondham’s cultural offer are set to move forward this year with hopes of submitting a bid for the extension of the town’s arts centre.
The grade I listed Becket’s Chapel is in its fourth season as the Wymondham Arts Centre after the former library was reopened as a cultural venue in 2009.
Members of the Wymondham Arts Forum hope the long-term future of the historic town centre building will be secured in the near future, which will enable an application to modernise the centre to be submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund.
It comes after the arts forum, which held its AGM this week, hired local architects Lucas Hickman Smith to draw up proposals in 2010 to improve the gallery space, upgrade kitchen and toilet facilities, and provide more space for storage, meetings and concerts.
Arthur Lucas, director of the arts centre project, said the Wymondham Old Grammar School Foundation, which owns the 12th century Becket’s Chapel, was considering the option of disposing the building. However, in order to succeed with a Heritage Lottery Fund bid, the chapel would need to be owned by a heritage group rather than an arts organisation.
“The Bridewell Preservation Trust are interested in taking the building on and we are acting as facilitators. We are still in limbo, but we are making steady progress and it is looking more promising,” he said.
Mr Lucas said work to modernise and extend the chapel building in Church Street would cost around £600,000 and they hoped to submit a first stage application to the Heritage Lottery Fund in the next calendar year.
He added that visitor figures for the first four weeks of the 2012 season were 25pc up on last year.
“It is becoming with the literary festival and the music festival and if the lottery funding for the Abbey is confirmed and everyone in the town pulls together, we could be a cultural destination.”
“I am not 100pc certain of a guaranteed [Heritage Lottery] grant, but I am reasonably certain that we can put a good case together. We are focusing on maintaining a good programme and this year’s programme is full and we are now in the process of looking at the programme for 2013,” he said.
Becket’s Chapel, which was built in 1174, was Wymondham’s Library for 60 years until it closed in 2009 when a modern library opened in Back Lane.
The arts centre’s latest exhibition - a spring open submission show - will run until April 29.
For more information, visit www.wymondhamarts.com