Hard to believe, but we’ve been open since 2019. The Garage Trust, which operates The Workshop, was already doing a lot of outreach activity in West Norfolk so knew it had to open a second venue.
We landed at 38 New Conduit Street, in King’s Lynn’s Vancouver Quarter, but closed soon after because of the pandemic. When we were able to reopen, we continued to grow our work and begin to talk about some much-needed changes to the building, which used to be a bank. To make it more us.
This summer, you may have noticed our new window decals. We quickly saw results, with more passers-by intrigued about who we were and what we do. With this in mind, we knew we had to make some changes inside too.
When our Front of House Assistant Megan became our new Venue Manager, one of her first jobs was to think how to best improve The Workshop’s foyer, corridors and studios. She asked The Workshop team for their thoughts.
Everyone agreed they had to be bright and colourful, have mirrors in the dance studio, get participants involved, and add a sense of permanence in the building. Megan then got in touch with Sam Beal, who we’ve worked with before on our Christmas show set designs.
They came up with a theme of a “contemporary circus”.
Sam says: “I was so excited. They are great spaces but didn’t quite reflect the fun, energy and theatrical talent The Workshop supports. We wanted to bring a new style into that was fun and enticing to people outside. Lots of colour, lights and theatrical flair. We also wanted to reflect the name The Workshop, hence the use of raw wood materials.
“As this is a space for participants to learn and develop, I was very keen on incorporating their voices, and ideas in the space. We asked participants for words or phrases that represent The Workshop to them, and some of these feature on the colourful signs around the space. There is also a wall where participants are invited to draw their own portraits, putting their stamp on their space.
“I’m so pleased with how it looks and feels. It’s much cleaner, more modern, and the entry arch is a really inviting way to enter the world of imagination and creativity beyond. There are practical things too, like extra storage and seating, and a few interactive elements I hope visitors enjoy. This is a design that can grow and develop with the Workshop, and I really hope everyone enjoys what they see. As the signs say – welcome home!”
The work took place over a week or so.
Graham Howes installed our flooring. We went with a wooden vinyl look to replace the astroturf. Shout out to Jordan – a past participant here and a former HNC Programme in Performing Arts student at sister venue The Garage – for volunteering to help paint. Both changed the space so much. Other areas got some much-need TLC, including some colourful window decals in the upstairs studio.
We asked participants to fill in a worksheet about everything they love about The Workshop so we could incorporate some key words and phrases they felt described us best. It felt right we included everyone because where would we be without them?
While the main construction came together on the final day. While some of us worked downstairs, others were upstairs installing the mirrors in our dance studio.
We then got started on the portrait wall. Again, this was an idea from Sam to get our participants involved. We’re going to be delivering a session in February half-term to fill in the empty wall with your own portraits. We’ve already added our own for inspiration.
The completed look has exceeded all of our dreams and really represents the work we do.
Megan says “I’m ecstatic. I’ve been planning the refurbishment for the last six months. It was difficult to put everybody’s ideas into one, but we made it happen. Sam and all of other brilliant workers put so much into making the venue shine. We all worked tireless to perfect it and it feels surreal to see it come to life! It feels like an entirely different space and I’m just so excited to share it with everyone when Spring term begins in the New Year.”
As well as our usual classes, we’re also working on our National Theatre Connections entry, Your Name is Dead by Elgan Rhys, and the start of our Summer Showcase where all our participants will be able to show off all their skills at a local venue.”
Dan, our Participation Programme Manager, adds: “I’m hoping the main thing the work will do is remind participants that this is a safe place for them to explore their creativity and tell their own stories. Using their own words and ideas will show them it is their space. On top of that, the more vibrant colours adorning the building will allow everyone to feel a bit more fun and free.“
Booking is now open for our spring term of classes. Our friendly front-of-house team are happy to answer any questions. Give them a call on 01553 277919, email email@example.com or pop in. If you’re looking for a space to hire, they can help with that too.