Town of Culture legacy to go on

STALYBRIDGE’S stint as Greater Manchester Town of Culture may have ended but do not think everyone and everything is just packing up and going home.

For the effects will be felt and seen for some time to come.

A celebration event at the town’s Civic Hall marked the culmination of a period that saw Manchester’s Halle Orchestra perform, as well as other musical performances.

There was theatre, dance and art a plenty and Street Fest provided a centre point as figures showed more than 46,000 people actively took part.

Sarah England School of dance at the Town of Culture celebration event

And according to a booklet marking the time, the impact is much longer-lasting than just 2023.

It states: “The success of Town of Culture 2022 depends upon the future steps we take together.

“By building upon the successes like Street Fest we can sustain reasons to visit and give confidence to the wider region in Stalybridge as a destination.

“By nurturing and developing the new networks and embedding the local authority into them as a collaborator, we can make sure that the town’s creatives can steer their future together.

“It is important to refer back to Town of Culture’s ambition and the starter projects to find ways to expand upon the work done in 2022 and grow the roots and shoots cultivated. to make the town bloom.

“We’ve learnt that we can approach cultural activity and programming in Stalybridge as you would for any town or city.

“Our people deserve It, understand It and want it. As 2022 has shown, giving people concepts and ideas that challenge them will push the boundaries of what is possible here, because Stalybridge has the assets, cultural heritage, talent and will to show that anything is possible.”

Stalybridge Street Fest

Events and art installations around the town will still happen.

A High Street Festival will take place on September 9 after the three-day long Gongoozler festival, which was scheduled for September 9-11, was cancelled because of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

And artist Rebecca Chesney, who was commissioned to develop a project, will see work pop up around the town.

Her interest in working class identity, the history of local civic uprising and striking in Stalybridge will be represented in a series of posters and collages, featuring scans and words from local groups.

And in September, she will exhibit the project in full at the Astley Cheetham Art Gallery and donate the work she produces to the gallery and other national art institutions.

Andy Burnham meets Phil Allen the man behind the Tame Valley Loop scheme – also with Cllr Leanne Feeley and MP Jonathan Reynolds | Photo by Gemma Carter

Tameside Council and The Bridge culture consortium applied for the GM Town of Culture 2022 award to, ‘showcase Stalybridge to the wider Greater Manchester community post-covid, when people started looking towards semi-rural communities in a new light.’

The booklet adds: “The team saw the Greater Manchester Town of Culture award as the perfect way to put Stalybridge on a new path.

“We wanted to show that Stalybridge wants, and deserves, the very best of what the culture sector can offer, and that the people of Stalybridge don’t have to travel to experience it.

“We wanted to platform the town’s cultural heritage and geographical quirks that make it special, to find the hook that makes it desirable to emotional and financial investment.

“Longer term, the goal was and continues to make Stalybridge a desirable place to work, rest and play.”

Over a 12-month period, 25 grants were allocated to community groups and organisations, including a writing workshop by local expert Cat Lumb, bunting and eco decoration making workshops for Heyrod Brass Band Contest and a 1960s summer of love reminiscent event for senior residents of the town by community group Fit Over Fifty.

It also saw The Living Room, a community archive for Stalybridge, created and chef and BBC Great British Menu champion Adam Reid teamed up for Born and Bread, which they say has ‘kickstarted a new food and drink network in the town.’

Stalybridge’s town centre is often cause for criticism, with repeated campaigns to set up the Civic Hall as a food destination and major plans are in place that would see the area transformed.

Is future will also feature in an exhibition by students at the School of Architecture at the University of Sheffield, after they spoke to residents and local business owners about what could be done with existing buildings.

Ans according to the booklet: “They discovered that wayfinding and signage that celebrated and united the town’s routes, navigation and overall feel was needed to enhance the everyday experience of the town.”

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