Chapel gets new life with youth and arts

Chapel gets new life with youth and arts

Phillip Kendall at St James The LessFor our second interview with local organisation we met and interviewed Mr. Philip Kendall in regard to the plan to transform a local chapel (St. James The Less) into an arts centre for the community.


The chapel is to undergo a £750,000 restoration project to convert it into a thriving community arts centre.


The main part of the revamp at St. James the Less will be restoring a set of historical stained glass windows, designed by world renowned artist Charles E Kempe.


We discovered trustees of the chapel want young people to get involved with the planning and design of the new arts centre.


Philip was so impressed by our enthusiasm he invited us be involved in some of the planning meetings, to ensure the arts centre attracts the younger generation.


Philip said: "Once it's restored, as well as organising events such as classical concerts, we want to arrange events to appeal to people of all ages, including young people. We thought it would be a great idea to get Danielle and Molly involved in some planning meetings, so they can be the voice of youth!"


Myself and Molly added: "Before the interview we did some research on St. James the Less and also looked up previous events that had taken place there. There didn't seem to be much for young people, none of which appealed to us and so we prepared a questionnaire to give out within our school, to get feedback from young people. Philip was overwhelmed with our enthusiasm and supports the idea."


St James KempeUp to 10 stained glass windows by Kempe will be completely restored to their full glory. Kempe, a stained glass artist from the 19th century, expressed his beliefs through stained glass and his work is still shown today.


The history of St. James is most important to be kept alive, with a famous story behind it involving John and Mary Mackie, who at the time the chapel was built in 1880 dedicated it to Mary's parents, James and Martha Ingham. The Mackie's were an important part of New Mills, Mr Mackie being a school governor and being very involved in young people's education.


The trustees appealed for a grant funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, of which they recieved £717,200 and then raised a further £80,000 themselves. £750,000 is expected to cover the cost of the renovation, including lighting, new roofing and an extention. They will then have a further £20,000 to spend on refurnishing and decorating the building.


While many think adults have given up on young people, there are still many adults keen to help and involve young people within creative activities, including Philip.


During our interview, he enthusiastically explained his passion for creating a space for everyone in New Mills to gather and enjoy, whether it be classical recitals, school band performances, art exhibitions, performing arts, a history gallery, martial arts or even meetings.

Philip wants to link up the restored chapel with other arts organisations including New Mills Art Theatre, as well as links with New Mills schools. Within the restored chapel centre there will be educational units which students will be able to use as part of the curriculum.


We agree. Some people see the youth of today declining into a state of uselessness and can see no hope for the future of a large population of young people, despite our unrecognised talents. Elements of grafitti express an imaginative and creative art form through which usually young people express their desire to be noticed and valued.


The restoration is due to start in January 2011 and hopefully will finish by September/October 2011. During this period, Philip is encouraging small groups of people to come along and view the restoration in progress.


Note: Extending our experience beyond writing to look at getting published more widely, this article was prepared as a Press Release and sent to local and some national papers, with the kind assistance of Dave Porter, professional press, public relations and marketing expert.

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