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A vision for digital innovation in the heart of Stockport

FutureEverything leads on a programme of creative placemaking in Stockport

Award-winning cultural organisation, FutureEverything, has been commissioned by Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council to deliver a new creative placemaking programme in Stockport town centre.

The programme, funded primarily by DCMS via Arts Council England’s Cultural Development Fund (CDF), aims to make Stockport a centre for creativity and digital innovation in the North. Stockport is currently the Greater Manchester Town of Culture for 2023.

Over the next three years, FutureEverything will commission; a digital, mobile artwork which will visit locations across the town; an artist-in-residence; and a major digital art commission. All of these elements will be collaborative – engaging more people in culture through participatory workshops and bringing people into the historic town centre of Stockport.

By engaging and bringing together the communities of Stockport through creative opportunities, FutureEverything hopes to stimulate and inspire new ideas about the place, challenge perceptions about digital art, architecture and public space, and transform engagement with the town centre.

FutureEverything will be working with artists in the Greater Manchester region to develop their skills through new work and a residency; and showcase the talent located in Stockport to a national audience with original artistic commissions.

The creative placemaking programme is part of a wider, town centre reinvigoration initiative Stockport Creative Campus led by Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council. Stockport Creative Campus aims to transform Stockport’s town centre by helping to develop and expand the digital and creative industries already established in Stockport allowing the sector to flourish and grow.

Alongside FutureEverything, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council has appointed other organisations including Manchester Metropolitan University, MadLab and IN4. The partners all have a defined role in working to establish the digital arts neighbourhood, developing the digital skills of residents, communities and forging pathways for creative graduates in Stockport.

FutureEverything has now completed a consultation programme actively engaging with the diverse communities in Stockport, including Sector 3, Stockport College and arts organisations such as Arc, to shape a bold and innovative Vision & Action Plan for the next stages of delivery. A full list of organisations is in the Vision & Action Plan.

The Vision & Action Plan outlines how FutureEverything will work with people in the town on digital arts activities to build on the existing creative neighbourhood and reconnect the area’s historic past with its digital future.

Plans are now in place to recruit an artist or artist collective for the first mobile arts commission. The first artist will be announced this winter and the first public artwork will be launched in summer 2024. It will be a digital, touring work visiting destinations across the town including the centre. There will also be a programme of participatory workshops for communities across Stockport to co-create work that will feed into the new artwork.

Chris Wright, Executive Producer at Future Everything, says: “We’re delighted to be working on Stockport Creative Campus. FutureEverything has a reputation for delivering digital arts and creative placemaking programmes such as this place (of mine) with collaboration at their heart.

“As an organisation, based in Greater Manchester, we work locally, nationally and internationally, which will add value to the quality of the work that we programme in Stockport and provide opportunities for it to reach new audiences.

“We believe that arts and culture have an important role in helping us rethink and reconsider our town centres. Culture can act as a catalyst enabling us to come together, opening up new perspectives and empowering us to imagine and enact positive societal change.

“We will work with artists and communities across the town. Our unique approach of unifying storytelling, digital art, and participation will see us reflecting and responding to the past, present and future of a changing place. We will celebrate and bring to the fore the values of people, community, creativity, history and environment that give Stockport its distinct identity.”

Chinnar Najib, Director of Culture Bridge, an arts organisation based in Stockport, which supports Kurdish arts and culture in Greater Manchester, says: “At Culture Bridge, we know how Art and Culture is bringing us all together, and how important it is to build inclusion to build our community. We are excited to collaborate with FutureEverything on making this project happen.”

Cllr Frankie Singleton Cabinet Member for Culture, Communities & Sport at Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, says: “This is a brilliant opportunity, launched during our Town of Culture year for residents to be a part of a cutting edge digital arts project and to appreciate the opportunities provided by digital technology for unleashing creativity in our communities.”