Epic set to bid for Norwich Open and bring back live music
Live music, hospitality events and community use could revert to the old Norwich Open – if an ambitious offer to take it up is accepted.
The prominent Bank Plain building has been empty for more than a year, following the financial collapse of the Open Norwich youth charity, which operated out of the building.
Last month, Lind Trust boss Graham Dacre revealed that discussions were ongoing about the future of the building and that interest had been shown by “a third party operator” seeking to restore a use similar to that which ‘he had before.
And it is now understood that this party is the team behind Epic Studios, which operates an event space and broadcast studio from the former ITV Anglia studio on Magdalen Street and is preparing proposals to take over the building.
It would see live music, hospitality events and conferences returning to the building, while other companies in the creative sector would also have the option of renting space in the building.
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Laura Rycroft, the former Managing Director of Open Norwich, who is now part of the Epic team, said: “I know the building challenges firsthand, having spent six months trying to solve them. it is a loss for the community since its closure.
“I’m sure there are a lot of people who would like to make it work for this purpose, but there won’t be many with the same level of experience and business acumen to make it work as the Epic team. “
She added that if a deal were to be made, it would open the door to parts of the building that would be used for charitable purposes.
But that the collapse of the charity showed that it would not be viable for the entire building to be run on a not-for-profit basis.
She added: “We would also seek to work with some of the previous tenants, many of whom are still homeless today.
“We also really want to offer training and apprenticeships, which will offer real work experience to the kind of young people who have benefited from Open.
“It would be a business, not a charity, but it would still be there for the community and would be accessible.”
The proposals were supported by city event organizer Elliot White, who began his booking career at Open. He said it was “a criminal offense” for a building the size of Open and the potential to be empty.
He said: “I think it’s a great idea. For an event planner like me, when Open closed it left a huge void and on a personal level it was devastating.
“There must be something like that downtown and with the good deals behind, I think it’s going to fly.”
Clive Lewis, MP for Norwich South, said: “” The open building is a fantastic historic space and beautifully converted.
“I would love to see it returned to service as soon as possible. Live events and the creative sector in our city have been hit hard by the pandemic.
“The reopening of“ The Open ”would be a tremendous boost, as would the return to the building of fabulous internal and local services for young people.
“It could also be an opportunity to do things even better next time. I would love to see any successor to the Open Youth Trust lead a non-profit organization again. ”
Mike Stonard, Norwich City Council Sustainable Growth Cabinet Member, said: “It would be nice to see the venue used again for creative activities and events – and as a space for young people.
“It’s really sad to see it empty. The Open Youth Trust has been a great loss for the city and the young people who have benefited from its services.”