STAYLBRIDGE is to take centre stage after being named Greater Manchester's Town of Culture for 2022.
The prestigious accolade shines a light on the many attributes of the post-industrial Tameside town, which boasts a beautiful canalside setting, heritage buildings and a rich mix of independent businesses while enjoying a tranquil location between the scenic hills of the peak district and the opportunities and attractions of the city-region.
The title, which is awarded by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and comes with a £50k grant, will enable Stalybridge to build on its existing vibrant programme of cultural activity and bring further exciting opportunities for residents and visitors as well as a lasting legacy for the town.
Tameside Council led the submission for the award, working in partnership with The Bridge Cultural Consortium. The Stalybridge Town of Culture Programme 2022 will complement existing work taking place as part of the Stalybridge Heritage Action Zone and the Town Centre Challenge.
A key feature of the bid is developing a cultural programme for 2022 that will promote projects that enable people to slow down, connect with the local environment and celebrate its cultural value in activities such as artist-led walks and trails, community growing projects and outdoor activities such as theatre and storytelling. These will tie in with existing cultural highlights in the town, such as the popular monthly Street Feast event.
Tameside Council Executive Member responsible for culture Cllr Leanne Feeley said: "I'm so proud for Stalybridge and our local community to receive this recognition. We already know what a fantastic, vibrant and creative place Stalybridge is, but this is an opportunity to showcase our town's amazing cultural identity even more widely.
"Stalybridge's cultural legacy spans the decades – it is the birthplace of the world's oldest brass band, the Stalybridge Old Band, it's the place where the iconic First World War song 'A Long, Long Way to Tipperary' was written, it's a key location in the film 'Yanks' featuring Richard Gere and it is where Beatrix Potter would often write and draw while visiting her family at Gorse Hall. In the present day it is still a hive of cultural activity, hosting events such as the recent Royal Exchange's The Den project and the ongoing and resoundingly successful Street Feast.
"The Town of Culture title will allow us to build on this heritage and the wonderful work already taking place, while also creating new opportunities and a new tale in the town's story. It's a really exciting way to start 2022 and I look forward to what will follow."
More details of the programme will be published in due course.
Pictured: Tameside Council Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington, Cllr Feeley and Chair of The Bridge Claire Tymon.