New users found for Norwich arts venue

A Norwich arts centre which will close at the end of the year will soon have a new group operating from the medieval building.

The King of Hearts has celebrated the arts in Norwich for the past 20 years but will cease operating in December after trustees unwillingly accepted defeat in a frantic fight for funding.

But it has emerged that despite the closure, on December 24, the arts will continue to have a strong presence at the Fye Bridge Street venue which is to be taken over by The Anteros Foundation. Couples will still be able to get married there too.

The group, which is based in Bergh Apton, offers painting courses and printing courses to students of all abilities, from beginners through to those with intermediate skills.

John Hemmant, managing trustee of the Anteros Foundation, said they had taken on the 105-year-lease and would be looking to run short art courses from the site from mid January.

He said: 'Our aim is to offer short courses in art techniques. The emphasis will be on arts education aimed at art students coming back to art after doing something else, or people who have developed to a certain level and want to develop techniques a bit further.'

Mr Hemmant, who wants the venue to become a hub for the arts in Norwich, will retain the cafe and also continue to offer weddings, exhibitions and occasional concerts.

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The move was announced by Aude Gotto, the founder of the King of Hearts, who said she was pleased the building would remain as an arts venue.

She said: 'The King of Hearts is still closing, but the building is not.

'We're very, very pleased that we've got an arts organisation to take it on. To see this building altogether closed would just be too sad so it was very important that this happened.'

The 20 or so staff that currently work at the King of Hearts will be made redundant at the end of the year.

Mrs Gotto said when it closes it will be the end of an era not only for the venue but for her too.

She said: 'For me its 23 years of my life - we've been going for 20 years and it was about three years in the planning - but we've done what we wanted to do and I feel that its run its course.

'We're very pleased that we did it for 20 years. When I started people told me I was mad, so I'm quite pleased we lasted that long and feel its quite an achievement. We've had a lot of letters of support saying how wonderful the place has been. I feel we can be extremely proud, but nothing lasts forever.'

More information about the King of Hearts is available online at]

? Are you taking over a Norwich venue? Contact Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email

? Former King of Hearts manager takes over Norwich cafe: see page 14.

? For the latest arts and entertainment news read the Going Out section in Friday's Evening News or visit