New music and enlarged arts centre audiences continue renaissance in Halifax

The renaissance of Halifax kick-started by the reopening of its landmark Piece Hall on Yorkshire Day in August, has seen a dramatic increase in audiences at the nearby Square Chapel Arts Centre.

Square Chapel patron Reece Dinsdale
Square Chapel patron Reece Dinsdale

The venue said it had sold 1,000 more tickets in the five months since August than in the whole of the previous year.

The centre, which has also benefited from the temporary closure of the St George’s Hall concert venue in Bradford, which is being renovated, has commissioned a new piece of music to celebrate its history. It unveiled the work, produced with the Huddersfield-based group Ensemble 360, as part of its new season.

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The Yorkshire composer Paul Robinson is behind the piece, which includes excerpts of verse by the Square Chapel’s over-50s writing group and an original poem by the building’s founder, Titus Knight.

Built in 1772 in red brick, the chapel is one of only a handful of square churches ever built. It had been threatened with demolition until it was converted into an arts centre.

The new composition will be performed on March 24 by the Hepton Singers and Ensemble 360.

The venue will also play host to the Yorkshire filmmaker, Clio Barnard. The Otley-born writer and director will answer questions in February about her work and preview her new feature, Dark River, a family drama starring Sean Bean, which was filmed in Northallerton.

The new season also includes a question and answer session with actor Reece Dinsdale, a patron of the Square Chapel. The event on March 4 will be his first appearance on stage there.

A screen version of the Bradford artist David Hockney’s exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London will also be seen in Halifax, thanks to a link with the Exhibition on Screen project, which offers an “immersive cinematic journey” through galleries worldwide.