Creative arts venue rescued from administration

Halifax’s Square Chapel Arts Centre has been saved after going into administration in March.

Arts At The Mill CIC, with the support of Arts Council England and Calderdale Council, has become the official owner of the popular venue.

Since the closure of Square Chapel in March, the team at Arts At The Mill have formed Square Chapel CIC, a non-profit organisation and worked with Arts Council England and Calderdale Council to ensure a smooth transition.

Arts At The Mill is the umbrella for Wigan organisations The Old Courts, Wigan Pier and The Royal Court Theatre.

The acquisition of Square Chapel allows Arts At The Mill to support and facilitate the local team to drive forward activity.

Square Chapel Arts Centre will be headed by four experienced directors – Dave Jenkins (managing director), Jonny Davenport (artistic director), Michelle Mayor (director of operations) and Rebecca Davenport (sales and marketing director).

Jenkins said: “Square Chapel is an amazing accessible space, setting and auditorium of creativity and such an important asset for the people of Calderdale.

“All at Arts At The Mill are incredibly excited and humbled to have been supported both locally and nationally to co-develop the next stages of the arts centre.

“It has been a hard old time for all in the creative sector and it has been amazing to be able to safeguard the centre’s future and to retain some fantastically talented team members whose experience and links to the community are vitally important as we plan for the reopening.

“There will be every opportunity to input into the future planning and as new custodians of the arts centre, we are very much ready to listen and support the ambitions of the community, freelancers and artists who have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Pete Massey, director Yorkshire, Arts Council England, said: “Square Chapel has been an integral part of Halifax’s cultural life for a long time and the Arts Council is delighted that Arts at the Mill will now be taking the organisation forward.

“At a time when things are incredibly tough for many arts organisations, it’s great to see such a well-established institution being saved from closure.

“Arts at the Mill is an ideal fit with Square Chapel and Halifax and I can’t wait to visit again to experience some fantastic performance work when circumstances allow.”

Councillor Susan Press, Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for public services and communities, said: “Calderdale is well known for its distinctive arts and culture.

“We know how much value Square Chapel brings to our community and our economy, and what an important part it plays in people’s lives.

“We are delighted to be working with Arts At The Mill to secure its future as an arts centre for everyone to enjoy once it reopens.”

The Square Chapel administration, as reported by earlier this year, took place after the venue suffered a funding shortfall, despite attracting almost 100,000 people per year.