Wells Maltings arts, heritage and community centre holds its official unveiling with a special opening ceremony
There was a full house at Wells Maltings on Wednesday 19th September when director Simon Daykin and his team hosted an entertaining evening of events to officially open the £5m arts, heritage and community centre on Staithe Street in Wells-next-the-Sea. BBC Look East came along to film the event which was held to thank funders, staff, volunteers and other key people who have helped bring this far-reaching project to fruition.
“What a great day for Wells and North Norfolk; the official opening of our magnificent new multi-arts and community centre,” said Sir Tim Lankester, chairman, Wells Maltings Board of Trustees.
Sir Tim also thanked Polly Coke, The Countess of Leicester, from neighbouring Holkham Hall, who is Wells Maltings’ overall Patron and who was invited to “cut the ribbon”. Only this particular ribbon-cutting ceremony was something rather more dynamic, with theatrical plumes of light and dry ice at the back of the stage.
Sir Tim also thanked the project’s many financial supporters, saying: “We are immensely grateful to all who gave to make the project possible, nearly £5 million in total. We say thank you to the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Coastal Communities Fund, the Clore Duffield Foundation and Dr Haruhisa Handa’s International Foundation for Arts and Culture based in Japan.” He also paid tribute to the many patrons, sponsors, friends and volunteers of Wells Maltings and acknowledged that without their help and support, none of the renovations and restorations would have been possible. He singled out Peter Lynn, the former chairman of trustees, for particular thanks for his leadership and vision as the project took shape.
A showcase of forthcoming events, both on the big screen and on stage, took place in the new 140-seat auditorium and pupils from Alderman Peel High School gave a performance of songs and choral work.
There was a short reading by Evette Price and Norfolk’s fEAST Theatre Company gave a taster of their new play Into Thin Air, soon to be performed for the first time at Wells Maltings. There was also a “live” hook-up to Nicola Pollard from the Up The Road Theatre Company, with whom the centre will be collaborating in 2019, and screenings of a fascinating time-lapse film, which can be viewed on Wells Maltings’ website, which shows the centre being constructed, as well as of Water Marks by Tracy Satchwill, an animated film about the history of Wells which can also be viewed in the Kiln Room upstairs in the Wells Heritage Centre in the new Wells Maltings building.
Director Simon Daykin concluded the evening, saying: “Many people ask me why a small town like Wells-next-the-Sea should deserve to have such a world class centre as this. My response is – why shouldn’t it? Wells and North Norfolk deserve it, so let’s celebrate this new centre and what it can bring to the many people who live, work and visit here – connecting people to the arts, to heritage and to each other.”