Batley opera hailed as a real boost for town

Life in a day: Performers chart 24 hours in Batley during the opera.
Life in a day: Performers chart 24 hours in Batley during the opera.

A business campaigner said the success of The Batley Variations was an important example of how arts projects can be a real boost for the town.

THE contemporary opera, about 24 hours in the life of Batley and its people, was a sell-out success. Billed as ‘the inside story of a northern town’, The Batley Variations was produced by 509 Arts and performed in St Mary’s Social Club, which was transformed into a stunning cabaret environment.

Taking biscuit: The Batley Variations at St Mary's Social Club.

Taking biscuit: The Batley Variations at St Mary's Social Club.

It featured songs about The Golden Mile, Batley Bulldogs, Fox’s Biscuits, and Batley Market, as well as lesser-known personal stories which inspired the songs about all things important in the former mill town.

Andrew Marsden, chair of Batley Business Association, said: “You only had to look at the faces in the audience to know it was a complete success.

“Batley has a long tradition of putting on high quality shows, but it’s the first time anybody has created a bespoke set of musical pieces celebrating Batley and all that is great and good.

“It is extremely important for Batley and similar towns to have success like this, which brings a boost in terms of trade and also a feel good factor.

“It draws attention to the wealth of talent we have here.

“The production also helps us to come together and share that Batley spirit, and to take a bit of time to smile again about our town in what could be challenging times.”

The Batley Variations was commissioned by Batley Business Association and Creative Scene, which uses Arts Council England funding to bring arts and culture to the area.

Nancy Barrett, director of Creative Scene, said: “Most of the community cast had no previous experience of this type of performance. It was great to be part of a good reason for people to get together and feel proud of their town and where they come from.”