Preston’s main entertainment venue the Guild Hall has officially transferred into private hands.Advertisement
The keys to the building were presented to Simon Rigby, a local multi-millionaire businessman, in a ceremony on Monday lunchtime.
Work has already begun on a £1 million investment programme as the Rigby group look to turnaround the venue which was threatened with closure under Preston City Council ownership.
Cabinet member for arts and culture, councillor Veronica Afrin, hailed the plan from Rigby in a turnaround for his fortune’s after his bid for Preston Bus Station was rejected in early 2013.
Applause from around 200 invited guests rang out at the announcement Mr Rigby was to make a £250,000 fund available for the arts and culture in Preston.
Simon Rigby said on receiving the keys: “This is a new dawn for the venue. This is philanthropy but I hope in time it will not be and this is an investment in the Guild Hall and in Preston.”
Mayor councillor Nicholas Pomfret formally handed Mr Rigby a set of keys for the venue, although his team has been in place starting work on the building for the last two months.
Councillor Afrin said she wished Mr Rigby every success in the venture.
She said: “During the interviews we did with him there was a genuine desire to help the arts in the city.
“We need to ensure the Trust fund is used to stimulate smaller cultural groups in the city to put on events.
“I come to the Guild Hall regularly and I really hope to see more events happening. It’s important Prestonians come and support it.”
Workmen have already changed the signage at the front of the building, a new coffee shop Leaf and Bean is open on the ground floor and workmen are ripping out the former Cassandra’s cafe to create a new tapas restaurant.
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