Royal couple will see £6m arts centre and meet young poets in Halifax visit

PoetryQuest at Square Chapel, Halifax - patron, actor Penelope Wilton, is pictured with Bushraa Parveen and Azaria Khan
PoetryQuest at Square Chapel, Halifax - patron, actor Penelope Wilton, is pictured with Bushraa Parveen and Azaria Khan

Showing just what can be done, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will see a state-of-the art home for the arts when they visit Halifax next Friday, February 16.

The Royal party will visit Square Chapel Arts Centre, which has recently opened extensive new facilities including a new auditorium, multi-function room and café bar with upgrades to the existing building including a new connection to The Piece Hall.

Together with the Piece Hall project, the ongoing success of the Eureka! Museum of Childhood which Prince Charles opened in 1992, and volunteer-run Calderdale Industrial Museum, the quarter has been transformed into a place to visit, and an impressive gateway to the town centre.

They will be met by David McQuillan, Director of Square Chapel Arts Centre who said he was looking forward to giving The Prince and The Duchess a tour of the building, which has undergone £6.6 million restoration.

“We have come a long way since the derelict Square Chapel was purchased by a group of volunteers for just £25 in 1988 and indeed since His Royal Highness visited us in 1992. This Royal visit is testament to the commitment and vision of all our volunteers and staff, kicking off our 30th year in style. We are very much looking forward to seeing what he thinks of the restoration of the Georgian chapel and our new extension.”

The Prince is known for his love of architecture and his interest in the arts, and accordingly Their Royal Highnesses will meet children from Halifax schools who have taken part in the three-year PoetryQuest project - HRH is founder and patron of Children and the Arts.

For three years Square Chapel has been the main venue for the PoetryQuest project which has seen professional poets working with several hundred primary school children, encouraging them to read and enjoy poetry across the widest possible range of forms and cultures.

In addition, the children were challenged to write and recite their own poetry as part of a finale performance each year and teacher professional development has also been incorporated.

PoetryQuest has been a huge success, with the independent evaluator identifying measurable gains in terms of the children’s literacy and communication skills (comprehension, writing and speaking). The schools have built a strong continuing bond with Square Chapel and with the poets in the process, which will continue through the coming years even though the PoetryQuest project has now ended.

Last summer’s finale was particularly memorable for a recitation of favorite poetry by the project’s Ambassador Dame Penelope Wilton and for the publication of a book of poems by the children themselves.

A copy of this anthology will be presented to the Royal couple during the visit.