Calderdale Council works with a range of partners to support cultural activity such as festivals and events, delivering pride in place to local communities and attracting visitors to its market towns. This case study forms part of the Value of culture - visitor economy section of our online Culture Hub.
Calderdale is a combination of distinct market towns and beautiful landscapes, and its visitor economy is currently worth more than £298 million each year. Calderdale Council is working with public, private and community sector partners to provide compelling reasons to visit the area based on the greatest potential for growth, whilst also enhancing pride of place in local communities.
Calderdale’s market towns host a wealth of independent festivals, organised at grassroots level by community sector partners but with council support. These locally inspired events have the community at their heart and are often underpinned or supplemented by a street market of local produce.
Calderdale Council provides infrastructure, guidance and expertise to support cultural opportunities in the area. It also helps with promotion and marketing activity through www.visitcalderdale.com. Practical support includes hiring out market stalls, erecting and dismantling them and closing roads (road closures are free of charge for such events and can be turned around quickly). Advice is provided for the organisers, who are often volunteers, to help them deliver safe and successful events.
Impact of the activity
One town that has seen a tourism transformation due to its thriving outdoor cultural offer is Brighouse. Through a varied and entertaining festival and events programme supplemented by regular specialist markets, Brighouse now attracts far more visitors than it did in the recent past. Economic research has identified that 84 per cent of visitors were motivated to come to Brighouse specifically to experience the festivals on offer. Average visitor spend was just under £50 per night while non-accommodation spend was just over £21. Several signature events support the cultural agenda including a 1940s weekend, the Canal and Music Festival and the Victorian Christmas Festival.
In Halifax, a large annual Food and Drink Festival has over 100 exhibitors taking part. Hebden Bridge Arts Festival brings the best national and international artists and performers to the area each summer for a celebration of comedy, music, dance, drama, literature and visual arts. Todmorden hosts an annual Lamplighter Festival with a street parade of giant puppetry which lights up the town in the darkest month of the year.
Looking to the future
Throughout 2017, Calderdale is celebrating the reopening of the Piece Hall. Originally built to support the trading of ‘pieces’ of cloth, it has been a meeting place for Halifax’s commercial, civic and cultural life for almost 250 years. It has now been re-imagined as a cultural and retail centre through a £19 million conservation and transformation programme, made possible through significant funding from the National Lottery and Calderdale Council, along with other foundations and supporters. The Piece Hall will deliver a varied cultural and retail offer to support trading, with a seasonal programme of attractions.
A consortium of cultural organisations from across Calderdale has secured a second round of Cultural Destinations funding from Arts Council England to further develop the local cultural offer through collaboration, public relations and shared information channels. This will allow cultural providers to work together, cross-promote and share information.
Key learning points
- Ensure culture is at the heart of strategic planning.
- Awareness of the cultural events programme across the borough is necessary to ensure that appropriate resources are in place.
- Think big, be ambitious.
- Partnership work is essential for success.
- Festivals can support destinations all year round.
This case study has been developed in conjunction with Arts Council England