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the Arts Charity at Dean Clough

ACDC is the powerhouse in charge of Dean Clough’s arts: a new charity that has been convened to manage, consolidate and develop the arts and educational programme at Halifax’s nationally renowned centre for business, creativity and leisure.

Drawing on the expertise behind its 35 years of celebrated arts activity, ACDC will for the first time unite Dean Clough’s visual arts, performance, community and legacy programmes under one roof.

With an innovative brief and unique resources it’s our job to create an impact across social, educational and commercial sectors and change lives for the better.

Current Exhibitions

For more information on current exhibitions and events please see


ACDC is responsible for all the strategic decisions governing Dean Clough’s arts. It directly supervises Dean Clough’s 25 artists studios and the contemporary arts programme in its six galleries. It programmes Dean Clough’s music and other performance programmes, its various festivals and other community events (from life drawing classes to science lectures) that happen in Dean Clough’s public spaces. It encourages and commissions participants in Dean Clough’s creative and educational activities, and liaises with the many independent arts organisations on site. The picture shows the Executive Director welcoming a visiting delegation from China in 2015… we aim to have fun, too.

Dean Clough

Dean Clough Mills is the spectacular complex of C.19th industrial buildings in Halifax that houses some 150 companies and over 4,000 workers. A national symbol of economic regeneration during the 1980’s, Dean Clough is still visited by delegations from around the world. Its fast-developing retail and leisure facilities (including hotels, restaurants, gyms and shops) makes the half-mile long site a popular visitor attraction from increasingly far afield.

Dean Clough’s Visual Arts Programme

Dean Clough houses one of the largest privately-run galleries in the country. Its 30 year legacy and the sheer scale of its contemporary arts programme has been a significant impact on the local, regional and at times national arts map. Open seven-days-a-week the galleries are freely accessible to the public. ACDC is responsible for selecting and installing the main programme, for scheduling the community programming (from local art groups to schools, colleges and universities), and for managing the many performance and educational activities in the galleries. The picture shows Michael Sandle’s ‘20th C Memorial’, which was a collaboration with the Tate instigated by ACDC’s team in 2010.

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Dean Clough’s Artists Studios

The score of subsidised artists studios at Dean Clough have been managed in a variety of ways since their inception in 1985 but they have always consisted of varied practices (from painting to ceramics to animation to violin bow making). As a model the studios have historically influenced other schemes around the UK. They have a key role in the regional arts and in their time have housed and aided significant national figures. ACDC maintains and manages the studios and superintends the selection of artists. We are presently involved in plans to centralise the studios in a permanent location on site and to devise an innovative set of bursary schemes to assist artists at key points in their careers.

The Dean Clough Art Collection

ACDC maintains, displays and advises Dean Clough on its permanent arts collection. This significant archive of over 300 works has been amassed - either by purchase or gift - since the mid-1980s. The collection offers a unique ’snap shot’ of regional artistic practice and the finest works are permanently displayed around the site, featuring original works by Tony Earnshaw (1924-2000), Jeff Nuttall (1933-2004), Willy Tirr (1915-2000), Derek Hyatt (b.1931) and Tom Wood (b.1955); prints by David Hockney (b.1937), and Anthony Davies (b.1947); sculpture by Sir Antony Caro (b.1924) and The Art Junkies; installations by Christian Boltanski (b. 1944) and Lawrence Weiner  (1942); and photographs by Bill Brandt (1904-1983) and Martin Parr (b.1952).

The Dean Clough Heritage

The mills buildings at Dean Clough principally date back to the mid-19th C. and were mostly built by John Crossley & Sons, once the largest carpet manufacturer in the world. Inevitably art interventions and social activities (often fuelled by the memories of past workers) have regularly drawn on this heritage. ACDC maintains a bank of small artefacts and knowledge that relates to Dean Clough’s past incarnation and assists, facilitates and instigates legacy projects as various as heritage walks, local history film shows and the enormous Lego Brick model of the site.

The Performance Programme

Be it in the multifunctional Crossley Gallery (with its hand-built Fazioli grand piano); in the famous underground Viaduct Theatre (home to Northern Broadsides Theatre Company), or in Dean Clough’s exterior courtyards – ACDC is responsible for a wide variety of performance events at Dean Clough from stand-up comedy to classical music. For over 20 years its staff have run the renowned jazz season which has hosted legendary performers from both the UK (Norma Winstone, Stan Tracey, Bobby Wellins, Alan Barnes etc) and overseas (Lee Konitz, Katia Labeque, Fred Hersch etc.) - as well as 'up-coming' performers who have since gone on to achieve renown (conspicuously the Mercury Prize nominees Zoe Rahman, Polar Bear and Go-Go Penguin).  The pictures shows Kit Downes ‘sampling’ Halifax Minster’s organ for ‘The Dean Clough Suite’ in 2015.

Management of Festivals and Installations

The resources at Dean Clough - from its galleries, meeting rooms and theatres to its hotels and specialist restaurants - lend themselves perfectly to festival events. The ACDC staff have been and will continue to be intimately involved in events as expectable as art fairs and movie festivals, and as original as 60-second play writing festivals, Ghost Story Festivals, Cosplay festivals, Retro-computer games and Board game weekends. ACDC also facilitates one-off installations in Dean Clough’s spaces - the most recent instance being Jenny Kagan’s acclaimed peregrinatory construction in 2016 about her family’s experience of the Holocaust (picture courtesy of the Yorkshire Post).

ACDC and the Local Community

While it is a designated arts charity, ACDC sees it as vitally important to engage with the largest possible audience and to highlight the role played by creativity in nearly every form of human endeavour (not least in commerce and industry). As CP Snow noted, though, this cannot be a one-way process. Consequently we will re-instigate the hugely successful Cafe Scientifique events at Dean Clough as soon as possible, and will continue to facilitate events here on behalf of local, non-arts charities and, indeed, individuals whenever we can. The question of who actually defines a community is always vexed, but we hope to play our part in the integration of upper and lower Calderdale towns and of the various local ethnic communities.

Education and Resource Management

ACDC will advance the education of both young people and adults through the provision of accredited and non-accredited vocational and life-skills training. The buildings at Dean Clough house a range of functional spaces; some of them (notably the studios and galleries) come under ACDC’s direct supervision - while others are primarily commercial. Even in the latter case, though, there are often opportunities that can be extended to charities or volunteer group activities. ACDC works in close co-operation with Dean Clough Ltd. to facilitate resources that enable activities as varied as life drawing sessions, poetry workshops, choral group rehearsals and Tai Chi sessions. We also broker introductions and proposals by arts organisations who are interested in forming their own commercial relationships with Dean Clough Ltd. such as the Projected Picture Preservation Trust (pictured).

On-site and Off-site Liaison

Dean Clough’s 150 clients include several leading, independent arts organisations (conspicuously IOU and Northern Broadsides) and a variety of companies with an interest in creative or community activities. ACDC staff have a long-standing connection with most of these organisations and are uniquely placed to liaise with them to the benefit of community and arts projects. ACDC also enjoys long-standing connections with local schools, colleges and universities (Yuen Fong Ling’s ‘intervention’ in the picture was part of a project with the University of Lincoln). Finally, we also enjoy time-honoured associations with Halifax’s extensive leisure facilities (from the Victoria Theatre to Square Chapel Centre for the Arts) and frequently contribute to municipal initiatives such as the Halifax Comedy Festival or the Halifax Heritage Festival, as well as playing our part in joint bids for schemes funded through government agencies such as the Arts Council or Heritage Lottery Fund.

ACDC’s Future:
A Cultural Powerhouse

ACDC’s expertise and advisory base means that - besides drama and the plastic arts - it can confidently pursue activities as diverse as film, music promotion, computer animation and even classic C.20th furniture preservation. We expect in the future to incubate projects that will come to have a life of their own and create an impact well beyond the vicinity of Halifax. With the core backing of Dean Clough Ltd., ACDC intends over the next few years to use its independence to illustrate new ways in which the arts can both inspire and be inspired by a broader demographic than traditional structures encourage. (The picture, incidentally, shows one of Crossley Carpet’s electrical powerhouse’s from 1931).

The Arts Charity at Dean Clough (ACDC)
Fletchers Mill, Dean Clough, Halifax HX3 5AX

  01422 383500

ACDC is a Foundation CIO: Charity No. 1170751

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