- June 28, 2023
- Posted by: admin
- Category: Sector Development
A campaign to reclaim the Mecca Bingo building in Taunton as an arts and culture venue is creating a buzz amongst local councillors and the public as the campaign reaches over 2000 signatures and is set to drive more public support.
The ‘Project Gaumont’ team lead by Somerset Arts Business Cultural Alliance and Creative Innovation Centre have been working hard in returning this venue (formally known as Gaumont Palace) as a multi-purpose venue (MVP).
Built in 1932 as a cinema, music and variety show venue, the Gaumont Palace has seen some big names perform there. From the Beatles to Queen and even David Bowie, The Cure, and Iron Maiden. In 1969 it was made into an Odean cinema and in 1981 that closed and was converted into a bingo hall.
Though bingo was popular back in the 80’s the owners of Mecca Bingo have closed many bingo halls in recent years and the Project Gaumont team believe it is time to return this amazing art deco building back into civic use as a cultural and non-cultural venue.
Estimated to have a capacity of 1100 seats and a potential economic impact of £10m per year for Taunton town centre, this underused building would need an estimated £5m investment to return it for public performances and events.
“It’s ideal for live music, comedy, dance, cinema, indoor fairs, markets, exhibitions, art installations, sports events and many more performance types, and with our close connections to the local arts and culture ecosystem we have identified many community benefits to. Not forgetting its impact on tourism, nighttime economy, and regeneration of the town centre” said director and project lead Andrew Knutt.
What sets Project Gaumont aside compared to campaigns of the past is its dedicated team of professionals, which range from theatre design and tech professionals to architects and theatre management specialists.
“The building was purchased by the local council in 2019 for £2.1m, and we have yet to know what Mecca Bingo’s intentions are when its lease runs out in a few years’ time. But with the demise of the bingo sector and Somerset’s county town badly needing a venue of this size, we believe it is the right time to bring back Gaumont Palace as a central focus for the town centre and its people” continues Andrew.
You can get more information, sign the petition, and learn more about the future plans of Project Gaumont by visiting their website at project-gaumont.co.uk.