Plans to transform Halifax chapel a step closer after funding boost

Plans to transform a Grade II listed building in the centre of Halifax have moved a step closer after £6.6 million was raised for the redevelopment project.

An artist's impression of what Square Chapel will look like

Square Chapel Centre for the Arts, which dates back to 1772 and is one of only a handful of square churches ever built, is being extended and improved to attract new audiences.

Trustees want to create a 108-seater multi-purpose cinema and theatre space, new dressing rooms and a cafe-bar serving locally sourced food and drink.

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It has now reached its £6.6 million funding target after contributions from bodies including Arts Council England, Calderdale council, Foyle Foundation and Garfield Weston Foundation.

Director Sally Martin said: “Square Chapel has come of age and has outgrown the building as it currently stands. It’s an amazing credit to community action and commitment.

“Literally hundreds of people have generously donated their time, effort, skills and inspiration to do what the centre has achieved to date.

“The volunteers and the community have been at the heart of what we do here and without them we wouldn’t have survived.”

After years of neglect, Square Chapel was brought for £25 in 1988 by local theatre lovers who wanted to turn it into “a vibrant centre for the arts for professional artists and the community”.

It now attracts 40,000 people a year and performers including Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers; comedians Phil Jupitus, Rhod Gilbert and Jerry Sadowitz and folk musician Ralph McTell.

Work will commence onsite from September and the project should be completed by the summer of 2017.