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Final piece of funding secured for National Centre for Writing project

PUBLISHED: 08:48 16 May 2018

The National Centre for Writing team, from left, Hannah Garrard, learning and participation manager; Alice Kent, communications director; Alison McFarlane, executive director; and Chris Gribble, chief executive; in the entrance hallway where the stairs and lift will be fitted as work is nearing completion at Dragon Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The National Centre for Writing team, from left, Hannah Garrard, learning and participation manager; Alice Kent, communications director; Alison McFarlane, executive director; and Chris Gribble, chief executive; in the entrance hallway where the stairs and lift will be fitted as work is nearing completion at Dragon Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2018

Writers’ Centre Norwich is celebrating securing the final piece of funding needed for its ambitious project to transform Norwich’s historic Dragon Hall into the National Centre for Writing.

The new wing at Dragon Hall, the National Centre for Writing, housing offices and an education room which is nearing completion. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY The new wing at Dragon Hall, the National Centre for Writing, housing offices and an education room which is nearing completion. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The final £250,000 for the £2.1m project to create a centre celebrating Norwich’s UNESCO City of Literature status has been pledged by FCC Environment through WREN. The news comes just weeks before building work is due to be completed on the 15th century King Street venue.

Chris Gribble, Writers’ Centre Norwich chief executive, said: “We are absolutely delighted by FCC Environment’s support through WREN and thank them wholeheartedly for this investment in us and the communities of Norwich and Norfolk. With 100pc of our campaign target achieved we will create something very special, as we embark on the next chapter for our UNESCO City of Literature. We look forward to working with partners locally, national and internationally to realise a pioneering artistic project that puts Norwich firmly on the map as a world class city of stories.”

The building work, which began last October, includes the creation of a new south wing to Dragon Hall to house an education space for schools and young people as well as offices. There is also improvements being made to the Great Hall to enable it to be used as a multipurpose cultural venue, and a refurbishment of the on-site cottage which will host visiting writers.

The project has been several years in the planning, and Mr Gribble said it was wonderful to see it nearing completion.

The new wing at Dragon Hall, the National Centre for Writing, housing offices and an education room which is nearing completion. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY The new wing at Dragon Hall, the National Centre for Writing, housing offices and an education room which is nearing completion. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“The topping out ceremony is on June 18 and then our first event happens later that week with our Worlds programme. We have about 30 writers from all over the world coming to spend some time here,” he said.

“What we hope that we have made here is a campus, basically a centre for national and international and local exchange of people and ideas and stories.

“We have an 120 seat venue for events. We have a series of rooms for writers to work in, an education space for children and young people, an adult education space and a writer’s house where writers and their families will come in and work with us and the communities in the city and the county for anywhere between one week and three months at a time. There will be a whole host of things going on here.”

Steve Longdon, FCC Environment’s regional director, said: “We are delighted to have been able to support Writers’ Centre Norwich in their vision to create a National Centre for Writing. It is great for our business to be involved in the transformation of the 15th century Dragon Hall, which is an incredible building, and we look forward to seeing the education centre and community garden welcome the first of many visitors when it opens.”

A meeting looking at the final technical specifications across the board at Dragon Hall, the National Centre for Writing in the main hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY A meeting looking at the final technical specifications across the board at Dragon Hall, the National Centre for Writing in the main hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

For more information, visit www.writerscentrenorwich.org.uk

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