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New art gallery for Great Yarmouth almost ready to showcase talent

PUBLISHED: 09:30 04 March 2014

Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust is turning the 18th century shop and dwelling into art studios and a new gallery. 

Picture: James Bass

Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust is turning the 18th century shop and dwelling into art studios and a new gallery. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2013

Art lovers are being called on to help run an gallery inside an 18th century merchant’s house in Great Yarmouth.

133 King Street - as it was 133 King Street - as it was

Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust (GYPT) has almost finished refurbishing the grade II listed building at 133 King Street, transforming the shop that stood empty for 15 years into a contemporary art gallery and studio spaces.

The 133 King Street gallery should be ready to open in April - but still needs an operator to manage it.

GYPT is now inviting proposals from anyone interested in managing the gallery, as well as applications from artists who want to rent the adjoining studios.

“We always knew there was demand in the Great Yarmouth borough for both a contemporary art gallery and cost-effective studio space,” said Bridget Heriz-Smith, GYPT’s finance and administration officer, who is also a professional sculptor.

“There has been strong interest so far from potential tenants. And Great Yarmouth Arts Festival has already booked the gallery for the 2014 Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios, in June.

“This facility, just a stone’s throw from the recently-refurbished St George’s Theatre, will boost the emerging cultural scene in the King Street area – and will be a unique, exciting and inspirational place in which to showcase and create art.”

The building at 133 is on Great Yarmouth Borough Council’s buildings at risk register but GYPT, which now owns the site, has been working with contractor Wellington Construction and two of its own conservation apprentices to sympathetically convert it using traditional methods.

The building has not been modernised or substantially altered since it was a private home in the 18th century, leaving many original features intact.

Councillor Bernard Williamson, chairman of the preservation trust and borough council’s cabinet member for transformation and regeneration, said: “This gallery and studios project will both preserve a building at risk and further the regeneration of the historic King Street area.

“The space at 133 King Street will be cheaper to rent, because as a trust we are able to operate without the need to make a profit. And to encourage an exceptional arts professional to manage the gallery, it is being leased on extremely favourable terms, not including services and rates.”

The refurbished building will include one single-bed first-floor residential unit with studio available for £550 per calender month (pcm), and three artists’ studios, available for £150pcm.

The project is part of the £4m Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) scheme, an area-based conservation-led regeneration scheme for the King Street area, whose centrepiece was the refurbishment of the grade I-listed St George’s Theatre, which dates from 1714.

The THI scheme is funded through sources including the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and the borough council.

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