We are pleased to announce that we have been awarded a Round 1 Award from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This means we have funds to develop the Sunday School Stories project in more detail with a professional design team and carrying out community consultation.
We have a target of a further £850,405 to raise in order to unlock a full award of £960,400 from Heritage Lottery Fund and deliver a world class and exciting space for contemporary community, arts and cultural use.
The Sunday School Hall at Union Chapel is a hidden gem. Rarely seen by the public, its time for some TLC has finally come after years of urgent works focusing on the Chapel itself. The original roof has reached the end of its 140 year life, the brickwork is crumbling and the electrics and plumbing are in urgent need of upgrading. The project is an exciting one that will create more space at Union Chapel for contemporary community, arts and cultural uses but first it needs to be made safe and accessible.
The space is also home to books, papers and artefacts amassed since Union Chapel’s foundation in 1799. This collection is an untapped treasure trove of stories. It tells tales of nonconformists and their 100 year journey from persecuted minority to being part of the establishment. It tells of the increasing acceptance of their liberal values, which have helped shape our society. There’s more modern material documenting Union Chapel’s life as a venue, such as posters from the very first Big Chill nights and legendary events by the likes of Procal Harem, Patti Smith, The Moth and Emile Sande. But it’s also full of the everyday too, revealing insights into the lives of real local people and their ambitions for a better world.
As well as repairing the hall itself Union Chapel wishes to conserve this collection to create an accessible archive. This project will create a mass of free skills based activities to from conservation and archive skills to training in powerful public speaking – a skill of the activist leaders who helped found Union Chapel.
Once our Sunday School Hall is repaired we hope it can become a space for all kinds of participative arts and heritage activities.