New director appointed for Square Chapel Centre for the Arts

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A new director has been appointed for Square Chapel Centre for the Arts.

David McQuillan, who has been with and grown alongside the organisation for the past 13 years, will take the reigns. His story began in 2003 when he took on the rold as outreach officer - being part of a small team of five gave him the chance to learn about all the aspects of the business and the community it serves in a hands on way.

He utilised his Fine Arts degree and experience to teach members of the community oil painting techniques and was also able to secure large funding bids to help the organisation progress.

Then in 2009 as development manager, he started working on securing funding for Square Chapel’s £6.6m redevelopment project, which eventually began in September 2015.

He was also the lead for the £3.8M project to build Orangebox - the state of the art young people’s centre, in which Square Chapel is a primary partner.

Converted from a disused fruit and veg market on Thomas Street, which also played a part in the naming of the centre, the centre opened its door to the young people of Calderdale in September 2013. It welcomes around 10,000 people a year who use the climbing wall, recording studios, rehearsal rooms, IT suites, meeting spaces, dedicated art room, rooftop skatepark and café.

Mr McQuillan said: “It’s probably slightly unusual to work at one place for so long, but then, Square Chapel is a wonderfully unusual place.

“Sometimes you find an organisation where the values and ethos just resonate with your own and over the last 13 years I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.

“I started working in the outreach team and quickly learnt the combination of community involvement and the highest quality professional art that has been fundamental to the success of Square Chapel.

“It’s this blend of engagement and excellence in a space that is both, safe and exciting, welcoming and experimental, that makes Square Chapel so vibrant.

“We’re very lucky to work in such a historically important building, but it’s the great team of people: staff, volunteers, friends and partners who give the place its soul and who, in this beautiful stone town, provide this beautiful red brick beating heart.

“I am thrilled and feel especially privileged to be appointed Director of this amazing place at such an exciting time.”

Professor Erik Knudsen, said: “David has made a significant contribution to the development and management of Square Chapel over the past 13 years.

“During this time he has demonstrated the breadth and depth of his skills and knowledge of running a successful performing arts centre.

“In applying for the director’s post, David demonstrated to the Trustees his ability to set high standards and his inspirational ambition for the organisation, including innovative ideas and plans for engaging staff, key stakeholders, the volunteer community and audiences.

“We are also thrilled to have in David a director who has the required experience to enable him to make important contributions to leading and managing our significant new building developments at Square Chapel.

“The Board of Trustees are excited to be entering this new period of Square Chapel’s history with David McQuillan as its new director.”

Work has commenced on the Square Chapel redevelopment project. The new build will transform the venue by creating a new extension and improved facilities for everyone who uses the thriving arts and community venue.

The space will include an intimate 108 seater multi-purpose cinema/studio and theatre space for film screenings, performances and workshops; new dressing rooms, improved toilets; a dedicated space for its committed volunteers; and a café-bar area where they will serve locally sourced food and drink.

There will also be a direct access into The Piece Hall’s interpretation centre creating a seamless cultural quarter in the heart of Halifax.

The project is on track to be completed by the summer of 2017 with a full programme of events to launch in the autumn of that year. Between July and September 2016, the centre will close to allow the builders access to the main space. During the month of September, Square Chapel will continue to showcase work but at site specific spaces with its ‘Other Rooms’ events.

“For over 25 years our beautiful, historic auditorium has been at the heart of what we do here at Square Chapel; but we’ve always engaged with the community outside of our four walls. This September we will be programming for the first time without access to our own beautiful room and we’ll be taking that Square Chapel magic to other venues in the town centre,” Mr McQuillan added.

“With the support of Film Hub North, the British Film Institute and in partnership with Live Cinema UK and a range of performers and artist, we’ll be producing an exciting programme of screenings and events in restaurants, hotels, gyms, cafés, abandoned buildings and woodlands. We’ll be releasing the full programme over the coming months, so keep your eyes peeled for Square Chapel in ‘Other Rooms’ across Halifax.”