Seven Miles Out is a creative social space based in the heart of Stockport Old Town. The project was funded in December 2013 by Stockport’s Portas Pilot with the aim of helping the regeneration of the Market and Underbanks.
Two years down the line and Seven Miles Out has hosted many arts and music events which have steadily built up a loyal community and has become the central hub of the annual Stockport Old Town Fringe Festival and Folk Festivals that have attracted thousands of new visitors to the area.
Our team have been delivering successful creative projects in the town since 2011 with Screen Stockport Film Festival which is held at Stockport Plaza and The Teenage Market, which started off as a free offer for young people in Stockport and has grown to become a national initiative now in 25 towns around the country.
In Seven Miles Out we wanted to capture the buzz and energy of our events in a sociable and welcoming space that would be home to cultural delivery of music, art, film, comedy, theatre, dance, spoken word, digital technology and specialist retail. We wanted the arts centre to be a family-friendly place with a warm atmosphere, appealing to people who believe their town centre experience should be about more than just the standard retail offer provided by Merseyway Shopping Centre.
Many people are familiar with the name ‘Seven Miles Out’. It was the name of a trendy boutique emporium in the 1960’s and ’70’s owned by maverick entrepreneur Miles Baddeley on Wellington Road South, close to where the Hatworks is now. Miles named the shop after himself and the fact that Stockport is ‘seven miles out’ of one of the greatest cities in the world yet our town has played an important part in Manchester’s success by sewing the seeds of innovation and creative talent here. We felt the name ‘Seven Miles Out’ was a fitting homage to this legacy and a celebration of all things vibrant and independent.
At Seven Miles Out our mantra is ‘Stockport is really fantastic’, to quote the words of a song written for us by the late, great Chris Sievey, aka cult comic character Frank Sidebottom. We worked with local artist Bob Oxley to create a unique street-art mural featuring a fusion of pop-culture and local references. The mural features Pacman being chased across the Stockport viaduct, an alien space ship beaming a green light down to the Stockport pyramid, Robbie the Robot hovering over the iconic Strawberry Studios and our hero Frank with Little Frank.
Seven Miles Out now delivers a varied programme of activity that has included regular film and comedy nights, live music showcases and Open Mic opportunities, art exhibitions and craft workshops, poetry and spoken word evenings, video game competitions, outdoor theatre performance & storytelling, traditional folk music jams & singarounds. During this time we have got to know some wonderful people who are just as passionate as we are about our home town.
We believe the key to success in Stockport is collaboration and in our work at Seven Miles Out we have been able to help other community groups and organisations in Stockport Old Town such as Artism, who support artists on the autistic spectrum, Stockport Ukulele Players and Community Music, who run STOMP – Stockport Music Project – that offers free music sessions to young people aged 11-16.
We have also engaged with many young artists, musicians and creatives from the town offering them a platform to showcase their talent. They have become regular visitors to Stockport Old Town and this has helped them feel more connected with their town centre and instilled a sense of civic pride.
We hope that through our work at Seven Miles Out, we will attract more visitors who come to Stockport Old Town for culture and entertainment. We have had funding support from Arts Council England, Film Hub North West and The Equity Foundation, and some great support from key people in high street regeneration such as Mary Portas who paid us a visit for a programme she was making about the Portas Pilots.
We were also delighted that acclaimed film director and writer Carol Morley chose our arts centre to launch her first autobiographical novel about growing up in Stockport which she titled ‘7 Miles Out’. Carol brought along award-winning actress Maxine Peake and together they read extracts from the novel to a packed house and signed copies. We have lots more exciting events planned for 2017 so we really hope you will be able to join us and become part of our growing creative community in Stockport Old Town.