Sunday, 6 February 2011

A reader despairs of Macc. Your thoughts please.

'We have just received this comment on a very old blog post "Art Centre for Macc?":  Many thanks Anon.
We didn't want it to get lost so are posting it here.

We think there are lots of points here that loop readers may want to respond to. 

'I come from Blackheath/Greenwich in the SE & thought it was 'normal' to have a variety of places to go at the weekends ie craft markets,food fayres,live music,antique & Bric a Brac stalls,great cafes,street food etc.The life & soul of a town.Macclesfield is sadly lacking in 'Life' !It's not usual for there not to be anything on in the SE at the weekends for families & single people.The area is vibrant,full of creative,artistic types & makes for a convivial 'village' for them to get out & meet others with similar interests.

Macclesfield is cold/heartless.There's no buzz here! What I have found, over the past two years is, people aren't friendly!They don't welcome outsiders/strangers.They don't seem to want to give any help to newcomers,to feel comfortable/part of life here in Macc.

.I joined several evening classes,a rambling group & the summer Italian Meetup,hoping that the locals would understand my situation and be friendly.It would have been fantastic for the town's redevelopment plans to have gone ahead.
There is a huge need for change and to 'create' a better environment.The big car park in the middle of Macc should be turned into a buzzing market for ALL.This will generate 'life' and money for the town from renting out stalls.People are creative & the idea of making & selling their goods will give everybody a sense of worth.It is very costly running a shop,but this be the answer!I'm sure I'm not alone.There are many people who could put on demonstrations of their craft.Greenwich undercover market offers everything from photography to leather work,jewelry,printing,children's/adults clothes,shoes etc.......You only have to look at the areas that do this,to know it works.

The areas are a nicer place to live,There is a 'heart'& people are friendlier! '

9 comments in response to this. Please see below


Anonymous said...

I have some sympathy with this view having lived here for 10 years. However this has started to change noticeably with the likes of the Loop, the Treacle Market, Barnaby Festival, as well as the advent of coffee shops in the market place, steady improvement in bars etc. Most of this change has come about relatively recently due to the efforts of a relatively small number of people. So give it time, and if you can spare the time, get involved...

neil said...

Well comparing Greenwich to Macc is pretty difficult I would say.

London's artistic communities and markets are of course going to be more diverse and established than Macc's. In fact I don’t think Manchester’s markets and arts scene is anything to really write home about, so a little town like Macc is no really on comparison really.

Yes, I think Macc is crying out for an ejection of creativity and the Treacle Market at least gives us artists a chance to get our work 'out there'
The treacle market is the single best addition to Macc 'life' in the last god knows how many years. It was crying out for it and the sad state of the 'normal' market just shows this.

In terms of arts centres’, galleries etc Macc is not well blessed.

Galleries will always pick and choose what they want to sell; getting a gallery to take a chance on any art or artist is always a thankless task.

Shop space is just too expensive, unless you get say a ‘co-op’ of artists together to share a cost (idea maybe?). It’s not like we haven’t got enough empty shops!

I wish Macc would let some artists use one of the empty shops as a gallery, following a model some other towns have used.

Studio space. Again I haven’t even bothered looking beyond a cursory search on Google and gave up after 10 minutes. I know rent a small photography studio in Salford.

Yes, the town renovation is badly needed and hopefully something will happen, in some form, sometime soon.

I think in this era of cuts, cuts and more cuts Art and culture are seen as too easier targets for those cuts.

I think it takes time to ‘get into’ a new group; groups are normally by the very nature very cliquey things.
Maybe the person just didn’t find the right group or didn’t give the group a fair chance.

Tim said...

Macc's on the up - Treacle, Barnaby etc. are helping and we have a lot going for us in the local countryside. How far would you have to go for a decent hill walk if you started in Greenwich? There are plenty of friendly people about - esp. in the independent shops, pubs and restaurants as well as now at the Treacle Market.

Lynne said...

Its not fair to expect Macc to resemble Greenwich (even Chorlton falls short) but it is absolutely reasonable to expect Macc to be a buzzing market town though, and it didn't in any way, shape or form. It was frustration with that (and the inspirational Janes) which fuelled the nascent revival: listing mag, arts festival, Treacle Market and new bars and restaurants have been mentioned. There's no performance space but designs have been drawn up for one. There's no arts centre, but Duke's Court is exploring. There's even an idea to make the Heritage Centre a sustainable building. There are signs of life -they need all the help they can get! Its finding 'like minded' folk which makes a place feel like home.

Lynne said...

Its not fair to expect Macc to resemble Greenwich (even Chorlton falls short) but it is absolutely reasonable to expect Macc to be a buzzing market town though, and it didn't in any way, shape or form. It was frustration with that (and the inspirational Janes) which fuelled the nascent revival: listing mag, arts festival, Treacle Market and new bars and restaurants have been mentioned. There's no performance space but designs have been drawn up for one. There's no arts centre, but Duke's Court is exploring. There's even an idea to make the Heritage Centre a sustainable building. There are signs of life -they need all the help they can get! Its finding 'like minded' folk which makes a place feel like home.

Anonymous said...

There are many, many creative and talented folk in Macc - until recently there has been no voice for them and they have been underground getting on with it...playing small gigs, selling a few paintings...artistic people aren't the best at promoting themselves and thats why the loop, barnaby etc is great in getting people noticed...just joining a few local groups and hoping to be impressed with the cultural diversity of the town isn't going to work - you have to dig a bit deeper :)

Vera said...

I am very sorry “anon” has such a low opinion of this town. To be honest I get very fed up of the popular sport of slagging Macclesfield off. Also while recent efforts (Loop, Barnaby etc) have been welcome additions, and are to be applauded, I think the attitude that there was nothing going on before these occurred somewhat narrow and blinkered.

There is a great deal happening - for example, a fantastic live music scene, great pubs, and to disagree with “anon” very friendly approachable people, beautiful scenery and walking, and still one or two fantastic old local shops. There are even a couple of galleries/studios which people set up on their own initiative.

No, this isn’t Blackheath or Greenwich-nor would I want it. If I did, I would live there, (or somewhere similar) rather than change a place with an entirely different demographic. I chose to live here and have a huge affection for the town. The borough of Lewisham has a long history of funding for arts and culture, along with a heavily subsidised infrastructure (by both local and national government) which we have never enjoyed the benefit of. Greenwich also attracts a huge number of tourists which further enhance the coffers. Unless they move the Royal Observatory to Macclesfield, and made it “Macclesfield Mean Time” there is no way we would ever enjoy such high levels of tourism or subsidy. Incidentally the borough of Lewisham also has an incidence of violent crime which is twice the national average, whilst Macc’s is less than a third.

For everyone that complains about Macclesfield, I meet visitors who think it is a delight, and find the people warm, friendly, funny and approachable. Only last week I was in my local pub. Three people who have been working here for the last few weeks (and visit many towns and cities in their line of work) expressed a view that they thought Macc was one of the best places they have worked and will leave with fond memories of a town they arrived in as strangers. My sister who is also a London resident loves coming here, finds it warm friendly and honest, and bemoans the fact that they do not have similar pubs in her neighbourhood.

I don’t know what to suggest to “anon” except maybe to stop thinking negative thoughts or making unfair comparisons with somewhere it could never be. However if approached with an open mind and taken on its own merits, I find there is seldom a dull moment.

hilaryjack said...

o dear!! so much to respond to here... macclesfield is def not greenwich ... but there are many artists, makers and creatives in and around the town. Last years Barnaby Festival proved this with great events going taking place here, with a contemporary art exhibition in Christ Church of regional and established artists, including turner prize nominee Ian Davenport, Jerwood Prize winner Mit Senoj, winner of CUBE Open Andrea Booker and the infamous David Shrigley many who hailed from or live in Macclesfield !! This years festival promises a special line up too.... a visit to sunderland st studios will reveal young talent while cheshire open studios trail shows craft and fine artists of all types from across the region....As for "Neils" comments about Manchester he is sadly mis informed.. the burgeoning art scene in the city centres around Castlefield Gallery, Cornerhouse, Bureau,Islington Mill, International 3 and Rogue Studios where over 80 artists reside in 30,000 square foot of studio space over three floors of Crusader Mill... comparisons with London are not useful but if you do a little more than scratch the surface and moan you will find what you are looking for...

Karen said...

There has been a lot of artistic and community activity in Macc for many years.

The problem has been that there's been a decline in publicity and community involvement over the past 20-odd years.

It's partly because the nature of the town changed: the mills closed, and the town became a dormitory town for Manchester (shifting population + less time for outside activities as more time is taken up commuting). Local unions were tremendously involved in community organising, bringing together workers from all the mills, weaving sheds, and factories - and their presence was contingent on the existence of large-scale manual labour in the area. Now, most people work outside the town for companies that don't have the same need to be part of the community, or in the service sector, which doesn't have the built-in support of the manual labour unions.

It's partly because of the decline of coherent community organisations such as churches and the Co-op, which brought people from all walks of life and economic backgrounds together. The Co-op used to be an enormous presence in the town, providing financial and social backing and - perhaps most importantly - training for co-operative work (they still do, of course, though not much in Macc itself). Churches were also hubs of activity, with church fellowships, committees for various local schemes, provision of space for meetings, the newsletters spreading information on local events, etc. Both were hugely important in organising events, town parades, and so on.

In other words, times change. The lives of towns tend to go in cycles. Macc relied on 3 big community hubs which have either died or undergone fundamental transformations. They took generations to build up, and their passing or decline left a void.

Artistic and community groups remained in smaller forms (we have more charities and choirs and drama groups than you can shake a stick at), but without the unions, Co-op and almost socially obligatory church attendance, they couldn't publicise their existence, and have struggled heroically to keep going.

What's amazing is that it's taken such a short space of time to shift towards new models of organisation - still grassroots, still co-operative in nature, but no longer relying on existing structures. New media is coming into its own. Old established groups and newer groups are coming together to create the best of what was remembered about Ye Goode Olde Dayes, the community spirit without the conformity.

A whole new way of doing community is emerging, and it involves canny PR as well as face-to-face work.

Really, these are exciting times.

PS. We moved back to Macc a few years ago. My husband isn't British. He loves it here because it's beautiful and the people are friendly and there's so much to do. Don't give up.

Anonymous said...

I take on board everything that all of you have said,whether it be agreeing or contrary to how I thought then.Unfortunately my later post about the changes in Macc since I wrote that,haven't been added,so you won't know that I congratulated the organisers(one of which comes from near Blackheath,so agreed with my views a few months back when I spoke to her about it!) of Treacle & Barnaby for their efforts in 'giving' Macc what it needed-a heart/life/the buzz in the town at least once a month.The success of Treacle has meant they can't take on any more crafters/artists to sell on a stall.There have been some enormous changes with the introduction of new Bars/pubs/cafes & this has given choice.The general feel of Macc has been greatly improved.People have started to take an interest in HOW the town looks & are bringing back the character it obviously once had!Ok,so granted it won't be a 'Greenwich or Blackheath',but it has gone a long way into becoming a far more appealing place.It might not get to Chorlton/West Didsbury staus,but who knows,maybe people could make it develop into that.There are definately enough artistic/creative people here in Macc to transform it.I spoke out bluntly to get people's attention-but hopefully in a good way.This was my experience of macc!