Huddersfield has launched a £25 million bid to transform its town centre into a cultural hub, including a new performance space and gallery.
Last year, the town’s local council announced it would be pumping £45 million into arts and leisure across the area, meaning Huddersfield could benefit from up to £70 million of cultural investment in the coming years.
The Yorkshire town is bidding for £25 million of new funding from the government’s High Street Fund to create a “vibrant cultural quarter” to regenerate its town centre by increasing footfall and boosting its night-time economy.
The planned hub would be created around the existing Lawrence Batley Theatre and library, which would be significantly enhanced, alongside a 700 to 1,000-seat live venue, gallery and museum.
Shabir Pandor, leader of Kirklees Council, described the future of the town centre as a “huge priority”.
“It’s crucial that we get this right and in order for a modern-day town centre to thrive it needs to have a more diverse offer. We recognise that in an age of online shopping, people want to have experiences in their town centres and culture is at the heart of this,” he said.
Local authorities across the UK face increasingly tight budgets for culture, and the news comes amid ongoing calls for councils to look for alternative ways to support the arts.
Research by the County Councils Network found spending for culture across all English authorities has fallen by £400 million over the past eight years, with the biggest cuts in rural areas.