Norfolk & Norwich Festival has announced it will be moving its offices to Norwich’s medieval Guildhall this autumn.
The team at the Festival have been working with Norwich City Council and Hudsons Architects on plans for the past 18 months. The ambitious move will provide a unique and flexible base for the organisation which celebrates 250 years in 2022.
The striking building of chequerboard flint and stone has stood on Gaol Hill since the early 1400s. For the next 500 years, it became home to the city’s civic administration and law courts. Given Grade I listed status in 1956, England’s largest and most elaborate medieval Guildhall has been home to a number of tenants over recent years.
The Festival team are expected to move in late this year and will take over 85% of the building, providing a flexible office and event space and a home to the main Festival Box Office. Alongside the core Festival team, a range of independent cultural workers, artists, producers and networks will be invited to share the space to create a vibrant creative hub in the city centre.
The move is supported by funding from the Towns Deal, which was secured by Norwich City Council last year. This is enabling several improvements to the office spaces within the historic fabric of the building, including the creation of accessible toilets and upgraded electrical and mechanical work.
“It’s fitting that one of Norwich’s foremost cultural organisations will take up residence in one of the city’s finest heritage buildings,” said Graham Nelson, Norwich City Council’s Director of Development and City Services. “The Festival team will breathe new life and vitality into this gem of a building and enable it to open up its doors again so people can enjoy and appreciate it.”
The move will also significantly improve public access to the building. Working with acclaimed artists, Lone Twin, the Festival will develop a Guild of Volunteers who will play a role as guides and custodians of the historic building, opening it up for regular heritage tours throughout the year.
Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Norfolk & Norwich Festival, Daniel Brine said “We’re really excited by this move. As we enter our 250th year at the Festival, it will reposition us in the heart of the city, increase our year-round community presence and enable us to develop our working relationships with local artists and organisations. To do that in one of Norwich’s most iconic buildings is tremendously exciting. We are grateful to all the partners who have helped bring this to fruition.”
For more information on the Norfolk & Norwich Festival visit nnfestival.org.uk.