£6.6 million renovation of Square Chapel set to be unveiled to the public

Martin Clarke, head of technical and production, at Square Chapel Arts Centre
Martin Clarke, head of technical and production, at Square Chapel Arts Centre

A completed £6.6 million renovation of Halifax’s Square Chapel will be unveiled to the public from Thursday, June 8.

The historic 18th century building at Square Road has been transformed into the spacious and modern Square Chapel Arts Centre, complete with multi-purpose 220-seater auditorium, a welcoming cafe bar with direct access to the neighbouring Piece Hall complex and a state of the art cinema and studio space.

Light streams into the airy community cafe bar, which will be open from 10am daily, while adaptable stage space in the main Redbrick Auditorium is complemented by the Copper Auditorium which houses the cinema, rehearsal and community space.

Copper detail on the atrium’s interior has been weathered to match that on the outside of the building, and it also houses a unique work by architectural glass artist Sarah Galloway, with earthy tones reflecting materials used in the renovation.

It is in keeping with the venue’s warm and welcoming feel developed since opening in 1988, when six local theatre lovers bought the run-down and demolition-threatened Grade II* listed Georgian chapel for just £25.

The centre’s head of technical and production, Martin Clarke, said the development aimed to iron out the venue’s quirks while retaining its homely feel, becoming the vibrant centre for professional artists and the community envisaged by the founders three decades ago.

“It’s about matching the highest standards with a Square Chapel welcome,” he said.

Productions and events have continued to be staged for most of the time work has been ongoing.

Centre director David McQuilliam said: “Fostering a sense of community and engaging audiences is what Square Chapel has been doing for nearly 30 years. Your arts centre is a place to come together for the best performances, food, films, conversations and drinks; a place to feel open-hearted and alive.”

Of the funding, £4.9 million has come from Arts Council England, with Calderdale Council contributing £265,000.

Main trust funders include the Monument Trust with £600,000 and Garfield Weston with £400,000 while locally Lloyds Banking Group have contributed £10,000, Harveys department store £5,000 and Timeform £2,000. Additionally other local businesses and individuals raised £100,000 between them to help bring the scheme to fruition.