Stalybridge is to take centre stage after being named Greater Manchester's Town of Culture for 2022.
The accolade will shine a light on the post-industrial Tameside town, which boasts a canalside setting, heritage buildings and a 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 £50,000 grant, will enable Stalybridge to build on its existing vibrant programme of cultural activity and bring further 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 which will return in March.
Stalybridge councillor Leanne Feeley, Tameside Council Executive Member responsible for culture, 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.”
Tameside Council say more details of the programme will be published in due course.
Stalybridge succeeds Bury, which became Greater Manchester’s inaugural Town of Culture in 2020 and held the title during 2021 throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham commented: “I’m really pleased to announce that Stalybridge will become Greater Manchester’s Town of Culture for 2022.
“We created this award back in 2019 because we wanted to shine a spotlight on everything that our towns have to offer, support creativity and innovation, and help people discover something new right on their doorstep.
“Despite the immense challenges of the pandemic, Bury was able to put on an outstanding series of events during its extended stint as our Town of Culture. As we move into 2022 I am confident that Stalybridge will do the same, and deliver a programme every bit as exciting, unique, and surprising.”