Square Chapel: Orchestra may leave much-loved Halifax theatre they are named after over claims they have not been paid for more than a year's worth of concerts

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A Halifax theatre could lose a loyal orchestra because over claims it owes the musical group thousands of pounds.

Orchestra of Square Chapel rehearses at Square Chapel and performs there four times a year - but says it has not been paid for its last four shows.

The orchestra’s chairman Nick Barber estimates the theatre owes them around £8,500 and says they can not keep “performing for nothing”.

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"We've told Square Chapel that if they don't do something about it, we will have to move out,” he said.

Square Chapel in HalifaxSquare Chapel in Halifax
Square Chapel in Halifax

"Our members are all local players, who live and work in and around Kirklees and Calderdale, and we perform small-scale classical orchestral music to a high standard. We are committed to giving young local talent the opportunity to perform with us.

"We have stuck with Square Chapel throughout its ups and downs, and have built up a loyal audience base who appreciate our interesting and varied programmes.

"However, the administration of Square Chapel has hit a new low this year. We have not been paid for a year now.

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"They owe us ticket money for our last four concerts, and despite our many attempts to contact them, the money has not been forthcoming.

"We are now looking for other venues in and around Halifax but none of them come anywhere near the lovely ambience and wonderful acoustics of Square Chapel.”

The orchestra says it owes Square Chapel around £3,000 in hire fees for the shows but has not had the invoice from Square Chapel so it can pay this and is owed substantially more from the venue from ticket sales.

It has also not had the ticket return figures for their last show so they can work out how much they should be getting from that performance or the ticket money for the last four shows.

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Mr Barber says Halifax residents have put time and money into supporting Square Chapel but Orchestra of Square Chapel is the last local group to still regularly perform there.

"It's really sad because it's a beautiful place,” he said.

Orchestra of Square Chapel has been performing at Square Chapel since 1998, presenting more than 100 shows at the venue.

Square Chapel went into administration in March 2020 but was taken over by Arts At The Mill CIC later that year and Square Chapel CIC was formed – a non-profit organisation.

Arts At The Mill CIC (also a non-profit organisation) is the umbrella for Wigan organisations The Old Courts, Wigan Pier and The Royal Court Theatre.

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The Courier has contacted Square Chapel for a comment but has not yet had a response.

Orchestra of Square Chapel is next due to perform at Square Chapel on Sunday, June 23 at 3pm.

Forthcoming acts due to perform at Square Chapel include Happy Mondays and Black Grape frontman Shaun Ryder, on September 13, and comedian Kiri Pritchard-McLean, on December 6.

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