Arts boss hails 'noticeable resurgence' in Halifax

Darren Henley, chief executive of Arts Council England.
Darren Henley, chief executive of Arts Council England.

A leading arts boss has described the role investment in culture has played in the regeneration of Calderdale.

Speaking on a tour of Halifax’s increasing cultural hotspots, Darren Henley, chief executive of Arts Council England, spoke passionately about his organisation’s effect on what he described as ‘a noticeable resurgence of the town’.

The Square Chapel, Halifax.

The Square Chapel, Halifax.

He said: “Part of the job we do is to celebrate creativity in our day-to-day lives. If you look at the history and heritage of a place like Halifax has creativity right at its very core. It’s in the DNA of the place.

“What art and culture venues can do is make places really vibrant. What I’m seeing in Halifax is a real sense of dynamism and opportunity. I speak to people and they tell me: ‘this placing feels like it’s going places’.

“What’s really exciting now is that we’ve got places like the Square Chapel and the Piece Hall that are central to giving people the opportunity to experience art and culture and play a part in it.”

A number of projects in Calderdale have been funded by Arts Council projects in recent years, including nearly £4m towards the regeneration of the Square Chapel itself.

And whilst Darren maintained that other towns could experience the sort of cultural sea-change ongoing in Calderdale, he admitted he had a special place in his heart for Halifax itself.

“This is the third time I’ve been to Halifax since I took over in this role three years ago. When I first came a lot of what you see around us were plans, which is exciting, but it’s incredible to see it come to fruition.

“What we look for is creative opportunities. What we have in Halifax is a great set people, be that from local authority, with forthcoming opportunities such as the welcoming of Leeds Business Centre. What the council and others have kicked off here is very exciting.”