Stockport Council to receive £2.63m Cultural Development funding to help safeguard nation's cultural heritage

The funding will transform Stockport’s heritage-rich historic centre into a sustainable, world-leading digital arts neighbourhood.

Stockport Council is celebrating after being awarded a grant of £2.63m by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports, delivered by Arts Council England out of a highly competitive pot of around £24m. This will deliver a Creative Campus in the heart of Stockport Town Centre. The total investment will be more than double the grant amount in the area.

Stockport’s award is part of a share of almost £50 million of funding to galleries, museums, libraries and cultural venues across the country, which will improve people’s access to the arts, safeguard cultural assets for future generations and power economic growth through culture.

Led by Stockport Council, Manchester Metropolitan University and MadLab, the aim is to provide a three-year town centre reinvigoration programme – transforming Stockport’s heritage-rich historic centre into a sustainable, world-leading digital arts neighbourhood. The transformation will include:

  • Creative Campus - a tightly knit cluster of production, community engagement, and public-facing inspirational spaces located in Stockport’s Old Town. Providing the physical infrastructure and specialist resources needed to grow the next generation of creative and digital businesses.

  • Campus Talent - a place based, hands-on industry orientated leadership and training programme. This will upskill the local workforce, raising confidence and aspirations, and building much needed digital skills capability, for future generations of creatives.

  • Creative Placemaking - a wide-ranging programme of public-facing digital arts activities, from site specific commissions and family-friendly work-shops to large scale events. This highly collaborative activity will tackle low engagement in culture, bringing in new audiences, engaging and inspiring visitors.

This award is a major boost to Stockport and an example of how they can deliver on the borough’s emerging Cultural Strategy, The Place That Makes Itself. It will support the conversion and re-use of empty properties to help create a cluster of digital creative businesses that will drive wider growth in the economy. The award will also support training and engagement, building skills for the future and ensuring inclusiveness and access to digital art activities.

Cllr Elise Wilson, Leader of Stockport Council said:“This is fantastic news, and this award shows our huge ambition for Stockport as we once again bring in funding to further complement all the great work already taking place in the town centre. Stockport is going places, and we are open for business. It will undoubtedly give a real boost to the local economy, which will benefit residents and future generations for years to come.

“It will help to ensure that our creative industries here in Stockport can flourish together and are well supported and will give us a fantastic opportunity to strengthen our offer to the creative sector. Improving digital skills is one of the council’s key priorities, arming residents with the tools they need to secure jobs and improve their employability.

“As well as this, our projects will repurpose several buildings in the town centre and will create an ‘eco-system’ of creative businesses, attracting more people to Stockport and creating a thriving, creative community. I look forward to working with Manchester Metropolitan University and MadLab to take this forward.”

Professor Martyn Evans, Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Manchester Metropolitan University said: “The creative industries are already an essential part of the regional economy and the university is delighted to be part of an initiative that will boost creativity and entrepreneurial activity in Stockport. This is an opportunity for our design experts to help to deliver the skills that citizens of Stockport will require if they want develop a career in the creative sector and also opens up opportunities to work with more established businesses on innovative research and knowledge exchange activities.”

Rachael Turner and Asa Calow at MadLab said: “It is fantastic to see this become a reality, after a huge effort by so many people over such a long time – from our super-engaged partners in Stockport Council through to the businesses, organisations, communities, and individuals which have channelled their energy into making this happen.

We’re now looking forward to what comes next: working to build a shared, inclusive vision for Stockport’s digital and creative sectors which draws on the talent and enthusiasm of all involved, from tech-curious residents and aspiring artists through to impact-obsessed social entrepreneurs and industry veterans.”

Arts Minister Lord Parkinson, said: “Culture is the bedrock of society. It brings people together, entertains and informs us, and helps us to understand our common past and shared future.

“Today we are announcing a raft of new funding for treasured cultural institutions up and down the country.

“This will help them to continue their great work, advance our work to level up access to arts and culture so they can be enjoyed by people no matter where they live, and protect these cherished institutions for future generations to enjoy.”

Darren Henley, Chief Executive Officer, Arts Council England, said: “Our artists, arts organisations, museums and libraries are experts in making villages, towns and cities better places to live, work, visit or play. This investment means they’ll be able to help more people across England to lead happier, more creative lives”.

The Cultural Investment Fund will see £48 million distributed to 63 organisations. It is allocated through three streams: £24 million through the Cultural Development Fund, £18.8 million through the Museums Estate and Development Fund, and £5 million through the Libraries Improvement Fund. The announcement follows a concerted effort by the government to support the country’s vital cultural organisations.

The Cultural Development Fund aims to give people access to arts and culture in areas with historically low levels of cultural engagement and boost economic growth.