Historic attraction receives a share of £1.57 billion fund

The Piece Hall Trust is set to receive a share of the government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help it through the coronavirus pandemic.

The historic attraction in Halifax will receive £995,000 of funding that will be used to ensure the iconic building can continue to safely operate and open to visitors, support its thriving tenant community and allow the Trust to invest in equipment and skills which can help to generate income.

The trust, an independent charity which manages this landmark heritage destination, said in July that it had been hit hard by the pandemic, with its operational income slashed by 80%, resulting in it starting a consultation process with 40 staff over potential redundancies.

Now it is one of 445 organisations across the country to receive vital funding from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage and the Heritage Stimulus Fund – funded by Government and administered at arms length by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Both funds are part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund which is designed to secure the future of Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues with emergency grants and loans.

The Piece Hall’s funding is part of the £67 million Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage, which aims to save “sites that are source of pride for communities across the country” such as Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire, Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, Blyth Tall Ship, the Severn Valley Railway and the International Bomber Command Centre in Lincolnshire.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “As a nation it is essential that we preserve our heritage and celebrate and learn from our past. This massive support package will protect our shared heritage for future generations, save jobs and help us prepare for a cultural bounceback post covid.”

Nicky Chance-Thompson. Credit: Joan Russell Photography.

Nicky Chance-Thompson DL, CEO at The Piece Hall Trust, said: “2020 has been a year which has posed unprecedented challenges for venues across the UK, particularly those with an offering focussed around heritage, retail and events. However, it is our view that the cultural and heritage sectors have a vital role to play nationally at this time, both in the emotional and economic recovery from the current situation.

“The response we’ve already received from a range of partners and also the public has been absolutely amazing, giving us great confidence for a bright and successful future. We’ve already seen fantastic demand for the live events we’re putting on in 2021, and while we are continuing to manage footfall in a sensible and effective way, things are moving in the right direction.

“This Culture Recovery Fund grant is brilliant for The Piece Hall and is something we are extremely grateful to receive. It allows us to safeguard our activities and plan effectively for the future, alongside funding already committed from our local partners, such as Calderdale Council. These funding streams will allow us to plan for the long-term, and we believe this will make a huge impact on the local economy. Our research demonstrated last year that for every £1 invested in The Piece Hall, £5.30 was delivered back in terms of ongoing economic benefit. The continued support of our funding streams, and this new funding aligned, will allow us to continue playing our part and deliver longer-term benefits.”

Roger Marsh OBE DL, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and The NP11, as well as chair of trustees at The Piece Hall Trust, said: “Culture will play a crucial role in our collective regional and national recovery from the impacts of COVID-19. The Culture Recovery Fund is a most welcome lifeline for the sector and recognises the vital role culture and heritage plays in people’s lives and livelihoods. Not only is there a direct economic benefit in terms of those employed by the industry, but there is also a role to be played in terms of the ongoing regeneration of our towns and cities, as well as the wider wellbeing of the people who live here. Yorkshire and the north are blessed with some fantastic buildings of significant historical and economic importance and the Piece Hall is a jewel in the crown that we can all be proud of.”

Calderdale Council’s Leader, Cllr Tim Swift said: “This is very welcome news and a real boost for Calderdale as we seek to recover and rebuild our economy.
“This funding will give confidence to all our resilient local businesses who have worked so hard over the past few very difficult months.
“Our heritage and our vibrant cultural offer are what has always made us such a special and distinctive place, attracting visitors from all over the world, and I know there’s a great deal of local pride and affection for this iconic building.”