Flood legacy extravaganza ‘Calderland’ to be performed in transformed Piece Hall

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Flood-hit communities of Calderdale are being encouraged to join in a huge legacy performance to be presented in the transformed Piece Hall later this year.

‘Calderland’, part of new arts programme Landlines and Watermarks, will tell the stories of the valley and its residents nearly 18 months on from the devastating 2015 Boxing Day disaster.

The Piece Hall courtyard will provide the backdrop for the musical, vocal and visual extravaganza, which will be performed at the end of September.

Landlines and Watermarks has been commissioned by Calderdale Council and the Community Foundation for Calderdale from leading Yorkshire-based company 509 Arts and is being supported by Arts Council England.

Alan Dix (My Last Car, Bike Story), director at 509 Arts, will lead the creative team, which includes award-winning playwright Mike Kenny (Railway Children, Blood and Chocolate), composer Richard Taylor, former composer-in-residence at West Yorkshire Playhouse and twice UK Theatre Award winner, and choir director Em Whitfield Brooks, who will lead rehearsals with local people throughout the valley.

Personal stories, anecdotes and recollections from local people based in the flood-hit towns of Brighouse, Elland, Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Sowerby Bridge and Todmorden will flow through the Landlines and Watermarks programme.

It includes three main elements - community folk opera Calderland, six new creative commissions (Waterworks) and The People’s Fair at The Piece Hall - which will reopen on August 1.

Director Alan Dix said: “The Calder Valley is a very special place with a unique character.

“The floods demonstrated how resourceful and extraordinary its communities are and ‘Landlines and Watermarks’ will celebrate this through an exploration of landscape, community, history and the future.

“There is something for everyone in ‘Landlines and Watermarks’ and to make it work we want as many people to become involved – performers, singers, musicians, community groups – all are welcome to join in”.

The production is now looking for more than 100 local people to take part as singers in the choir, musicians in the band, backstage crew, costume makers or community volunteers.

Anyone with an interest in getting involved can find out more at one of three drop-in workshops:

Tuesday, May 23 - Hebden Bridge Town Hall

Thursday, June 8- St Martin’s Methodist Church, Brighouse

Wednesday, June 14 - St Paul’s Methodist Church Hall, Sowerby Bridge

Calderdale Council leader Tim Swift said “The flooding in Calderdale was devastating for our towns, but it also brought our communities together in a show of resilience.

“Now, almost 18 months on, we want to proudly demonstrate how our towns have recovered, and show people across the country that Calderdale is well and truly open for business.

“As part of the Flood Fund, the council made a commitment to commission a series of cultural events throughout Calderdale in response to the flooding.

“These events will be a celebration of the entire Calder Valley, the place and the people and leave a lasting legacy. The diverse events as part of Landlines and Watermarks will help to support our local communities and businesses and show how strong and vibrant our towns are.”

Steve Duncan, chief executive of the Community Foundation for Calderdale, added: “Landlines and Watermarks is part of a series of events and initiatives the Community Foundation are proud to be part of and to fund, helping to create a positive legacy for Calderdale residents, charities and businesses affected by the 2015 Boxing Day flood. Thanks to the incredible generosity of so many people, both locally and further afield, we continue to support those directly affected by the flood helping to improve resilience from future flooding and we have been able to fund this fabulous arts project.

“I am confident Landlines and Watermarks will be very special. It’s an opportunity for many local people and groups to celebrate all that’s great about Calderdale but it’s also important to stress that the Community Foundation is providing ongoing support for other important projects such as environmental schemes, support for those with flood related mental health issues and two ground-breaking initiatives - Watermark and Floodsave, launched to provide a more secure and positive future for Calderdale residents and businesses.”