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Lottery boost for Halifax’s vibrant arts centre

  • Date: 15 February 2013
  • Area: North
buildings with people in front

Square Chapel's extension - how it will look. Credit: Architect Robert Evans, of Evans Vittori

Square Chapel Centre for the Arts is to receive £3.9 million lottery funding through Arts Council England to transform its current space and create a stunning new extension.

The investment will result in more high-quality theatre, music, dance and comedy performances coming to Halifax as well as greatly improved experiences for audiences, artists and Square Chapel’s team of 170 volunteers. Square Chapel currently welcomes over 40,000 visitors a year and it is anticipated that these numbers will double after the completion of the new building.
Cluny Macpherson, Regional Director, Arts Council England, said: 'The arts help make people’s lives richer, and their communities stronger and more vibrant. Square Chapel Centre for the Arts, a thriving local arts centre, is an excellent example of this. Our lottery investment in the Cornerstone project, together with strong support from Calderdale Council, will help them provide even more opportunities for people to participate in the arts, experience great performances and explore their own creativity.'
The new extension will include a second smaller auditorium, cinema and live screening facilities, better access, and a welcoming café bar. It will link directly to a new visitor and heritage centre in Halifax’s magnificent Piece Hall and is the final piece of the jigsaw that will transform this part of the town centre, complementing the Piece Hall, the new library and the Orangebox Young People’s Centre.
Stronger communities
Square Chapel already provides opportunities for people from a range of backgrounds to come to workshops, classes and projects, with over 300 local people regularly taking part. In addition, the Open Door schools project, supported by Big Lottery Fund, offers heavily subsidised tickets for primary and secondary school pupils and last year over 2000 children and young people experienced the magic of live theatre.
The Cornerstone development will create additional workshop space and better facilities that will allow Square Chapel to increase its education and community programmes and collaborative working with other partners in Calderdale.
Square Chapel’s Director, Sally Martin, said:  'We wish to express our massive gratitude to Arts Council England. The Cornerstone development is essential to the future success of Square Chapel. We will be able to welcome more audiences than ever before, support the development of the next generation of performers and cement our position within the new cultural hub for Calderdale. It also enables us to expand our community outreach and education programmes to provide even more opportunities for people from across Calderdale to develop creative skills and benefit from engaging in high quality arts activities.'
The development of Square Chapel would not be taking place without the ongoing commitment of Calderdale Council who share the vision of creating a new cultural hub in Halifax.
Leader of Calderdale Council, Cllr Tim Swift, said: 'We are delighted at Square Chapel’s success in securing the Arts Council investment. Their ambitious plans will complement the transformation of the Piece Hall, and provide yet further evidence of the confidence at a national level in what is happening in Halifax, supporting our vision of a revitalised town centre.'
The total cost of the project will be £5.9 million, and pledges from individuals, trusts and foundations of over £1.1 million mean that the campaign is over half way to its overall target. Plans are underway for the launch of a public fundraising campaign in April. You can keep up to date with Square Chapel’s future plans through its website or by following them on twitter.