Bid to create a Macclesfield arts hub

joy division A bid to create a Macclesfield arts hub celebrating the music of Joy Division and the town’s industrial heritage has won a welcome from shoppers.

Julie Hamer of Incubation Arts lobbied shoppers at the town’s Grosvenor Centre over her ambitious plans.

She wants to see a creative hub in Charles Roe House, Chestergate, marrying exhibition galleries and workshops with recording studios and performance spaces.

Permanent exhibitions will celebrate Macclesfield’s iconic indie band Joy Division along with silk and copper industrialist Charles Roe, who lived at the house in the 17th century.

Julie’s proposal is being backed by Cheshire East Council, community interest company Make in Macclesfield and former Joy Division and New Order bassist Peter Hook.

Joy Division has been cited by international stars including Moby and Bono of U2 as inspiring their musical careers.

Julie, who is bidding for Heritage Lottery cash to fund the project, also hopes the initiative will increase participation in the arts. She said: “The consultation at the Grosvenor Shopping Centre went incredibly well and was overwhelmingly positive.

“The centre is busy so it was the perfect place to chat to people and explain to them what we at Incubation Arts are planning to do.

“People have been saying it is a fantastic idea and is just what the town needs. There is a lot of support already among people involved with the arts and music scene and we were keen to hear the views of the wider public.

“I would urge people to get involved by making their views known via our online survey and we are planning another public consultation event at Macclesfield Library. If we succeed in getting funding the plan is to open the creative hub in 2017.

“Our project will create a new use for one of the most historic buildings in Macclesfield. Charles Roe House was the home of the founder of the silk industry in Macclesfield – Charles Roe (1715-1781). The project will save the building for public use and celebrate the life and times of this famous industrialist.

“A significant aspect of the project will be to create a permanent exhibition dedicate to the influential band Joy Division, whose members Ian Curtis and Steve Morris came from Macclesfield. Joy Division later became New Order, formed after the early death of Ian Curtis.”

Grosvenor Centre Manager Ed Kennedy was happy to welcome Incubation Arts to the centre to lay out the plans for Charles Rose House.

He said: “This sounds like a terrific idea which would make a great asset to the town, and help attract visitors from around the world.

“The Grosvenor Centre is at the heart of Macclesfield’s community and is an obvious choice for a public consultation to gauge people’s views.

“We’re very pleased to have hosted the event which proved a great success with lots of people engaging with it and responding positively.”

Shopper Helen Lindars, a counsellor and therapist from Macclesfield, described the proposal as a “super idea.”

She added: “There are lots of creative people in Macclesfield who really need a space like the one proposed.

“It’s also a great idea to commemorate notable people from the town like Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, whose contribution to popular music is legendary and widely recognised as this can instil a real sense of pride in people.

“Charles Roe House is perfect as it is a very ambient building located in the heart of town.”

Macclesfield musician Pete McGuckian, was also enthusiastic about the project. “There’s a lively arts and music scene in the town so there will be lots of people keen to get involved.” he said.

“Macclesfield’s musical heritage doesn’t just extend to Joy Division – it goes back to bands from the 1960s so there is a great legacy to be celebrated.

“There are a lot of musicians and bands who are collaborating and swapping information and contacts and they would undoubtedly make great use of a new hub. Julie is working incredibly hard on this project and deserves a lot of credit. I hope as many people as possible get behind the plans as this is long overdue and is just what the town needs.”

Phillip Coombes, a builder from Sutton, Macclesfield, was also enthusiastic about the proposal. “My son Alex plays the guitar and sings with his friend and I’m sure he’d be really keen to get involved. Charles Roe House is a lovely old building and it would be really good to see it rejuvenated.”

Macclesfield’s Grosvenor Centre, open daily, is home to 36 stores from fashion, health and beauty to services and food and drink. More details at www.grosvenorshopping.co.uk

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