Calderdale to celebrate Year of Culture for its 50th anniversary

Councillors have given the green light for a Year of Culture which aims to be a celebration and have a very practical role for Calderdale’s economy.

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 12:00 pm

As one of the recovery paths from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Year of Culture in 2024 will mark also Calderdale’s 50th anniversary as a borough.

Cabinet members who gave the go-ahead want people to enjoy what could be a year of celebration and are confident it can also boost tourism, which is increasingly becoming a major driver of Calderdale’s economy, the last full calendar year of normal operations showing it contributed around £400 million, boosted by a growing international reach ranging from television’s Gentleman Jack to Halifax’s Piece Hall helping bring people in.

Cabinet member for Public Services and Communities Coun Jenny Lynn said the council at this stage had been granted £450,000 gainshare funding to promote culture and the anniversary was a date to look forward to, and a further £220,000 had been identified to add to the pot.

The Piece Hall in Halifax
The Piece Hall in Halifax

She said proposed activities included a sector-specific business support programme, a Welcome to Calderdale campaign showcasing cultural industries being back in business, a programme of events and festivals linked to the Towns recovery programme, a small grants programme, and considering how culture could play a part revitalising the high street.

“We really want to celebrate 2024 – it is the culmination of Vision 2024 when Calderdale is 50 years old, so why not have a party?

“The recovery activities will be stepping stones towards this milestone and as well as having economic benefits,” said Coun Lynn (Lab, Park).

Coun Geraldine Carter (Con, Ryburn) said the council needed to get businesses on board for a project on this scale and there needed to be dialogue sooner rather than later.

Coun Scott Patient (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said it was good to have the community and voluntary sector on board as galas and fetes delivered at a micro level.

Coun James Baker (Lib Dem, Warley) said some events should be brought to people’s doorsteps in areas outside of Halifax and the market towns which did not always see any.

The paper on tourism and culture was one of four on recovery from COVID considered by Cabinet councillors, with a major thread running through them being how to reduce health and economic inequalities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Sources for the papers ranged from the council’s own Place Scrutiny Board to the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership.

For example, Place Scrutiny’s cross-party report revealed those parts of the community worst affected by the pandemic for varying reasons – young people, women, disabled people, people from Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) communities, and people on low incomes or in insecure employment, also registering impact on the voluntary services, the self-employed and business owners, and pensioners.