A.C.E. news for Oakwell

We are delighted to be able to announce that Oakwell has been successful in securing a grant of £257,000 from the Arts Council of England to improve the facilities in our visitor centre complex, and install new and exciting interpretation in our much loved Grade I listed Elizabethan Hall. The project includes the refurbishment of the public toilets in the visitor centre, a complete shop refit with some new interpretation about the whole site and country park, and improvements to facilities in the Barn, which is so important to us for our weddings and events.

Inside the Hall we are planning a programme of interpretation which will tell Oakwell’s story from the English Civil War, though to its Bronte connections and its more recent ‘career’ as a Kirklees’ visitor attraction and TV and film location. The Arts Council grant is supported by match funding from Kirklees Council’s Green Energy Fund, PPG Industries, who have already funded so much of our programme at Oakwell over the last year as well as recent structural repairs to one of our chimneys, and last but certainly not least, the Friends of Oakwell Hall and Country Park. Not only has financial support from the Friends helped to secure this grant, but the time and support of the Friends over the last 25 years has got to have been an important factor in the success of this bid too.

Councillor Jean Calvert, our Cabinet member for health, wellbeing and communities, said: “The grant is a great tribute to Oakwell Hall’s long tradition of innovation and creative thinking. Oakwell is at the heart of the community and it’s wonderful to see the continued support of local people, volunteers and businesses like PPG enabling this project to happen. Oakwell is such a well-loved site and this Arts Council grant will improve facilities for visitors, enabling it to meet the needs of a wider range of audiences.”

We are having to work fast though. The project is due to be completed by March 2015 so work has already started in consulting with staff and users to ensure we get the facilities we all want and need, with the refurbishment work starting in the autumn after our busy summer season It is wonderful to think though that as the Council faces challenging times with cuts to budgets, it has the confidence to invest time and money in a project like this, to provide facilities we can be proud to share with our visitors, and people who hire our facilities, well into the future. Thank you Friends of Oakwell for all your help in securing this money. It is going to be a busy year…

Eric Brown
Heritage Manager Kirklees Museums & Galleries