Former museum boss Sam Mason has vowed to put Halifax’s Piece Hall “at the top of the cultural map of Britain”, having been appointed to establish the historic venue among the country’s top visitor attractions.
Mr Mason, formerly the commercial director of the Science Museum Group, has been installed as the first chief executive of The Piece Hall Trust, the organisation which is due to managed the currently closed site.
The historic Grade I listed building is currently undergoing a dramatic overhaul costing Calderdale Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund £19.2million, with the aid of grant funding.
Mr Mason is charged with delivering “a world class tourist destination” when the hall reopens next year.
Wayne Bowser, chairman of the Piece Hall Trust, said: “This key appointment is an important step in our plan to revitalise the stunning historic cloth hall that once was a magnet for the world’s woollen trade.
“Sam has the ideal CV for the job, with the perfect mix of commercial, creative and heritage experience to create a 21st century visitor attraction in this iconic Georgian landmark which is a complete one-off.
“One of Sam’s first responsibilities will be to attract businesses to the Piece Hall which match the calibre of the location, and create a successful retail, leisure and cultural destination, where visitors will enjoy new experiences in a very special setting.”
Both the hall and its courtyard are being restored and transformed into “a modern heritage, business, leisure and cultural destination”, featuring a learning centre, an east side extension and a re-designed piazza.
Mr Mason said: “For me, this is one of the most exciting refurbishment programmes in the UK.
“Whether as a unique retail and café outlet; a brilliant business base; a key heritage centre or as an exceptional venue for large scale outdoor events, I believe we can put the Piece Hall and Halifax right at the top of the cultural map of Britain.”