The story behind The Glass Umbrella

We set up Screen Stockport in 2010 in order to give young, creative people a platform to share their work and engage with a creative community of enthusiasts and media professionals.

Screen Stockport TV was established online to promote and celebrate all the positive aspects about Stockport and its people.

Joe Barratt, the director of Screen Stockport Film Festival, was a seventeen year old student at Aquinas College when he started Screen Stockport. He is now nineteen years old and is studying Drama and Screen Studies at Manchester University.

Due to the success of Screen Stockport TV, we were approached by Stockport Council to produce Stockport’s Portas Pilot bid video.

As we supported the ideals of the Portas review of the future of the high street, and believed that this could be good for Stockport, we agreed to produce the bid video for free.

Joe filmed, edited and presented the video which had a specific focus on the Market and Underbanks area of the town.

This creative vision included the establishment of Seven Miles Out, a Digital and Visual Arts Centre, situated in an empty retail unit in the Market area.

In response to the video, Mary Portas commented positively on Twitter about the “young and fearless people of Stockport” and she also praised the “great energy” of our other initiative, The Teenage Market, which offers free market stalls to young people and creative entrepreneurs.

The Teenage Market event was organised by seventeen year old Aquinas College art student, Tom Barratt, after being inspired by the atmosphere and creativity of the Vintage Village, which takes place at Stockport Market Hall every second Sunday of the month.

On 25th May, out of 371 towns that applied to be a Portas Pilot town, Stockport was successfully chosen as one of the first twelve towns to be awarded £100,000.

In acknowledgment of this success, Mary Portas and Grant Shapps MP personally wrote to Stockport’s Town Team to say they were “particularly impressed by our plans to create a digital and visual arts centre to hold film exhibitions and workshops”.

On July 31st, we then organised the Seven Miles Out Music and Arts Festival featuring the Teenage Market, which was very much in line with many of the ideals set out in the Portas review.

The event fused together commerce and creativity, with retail and arts working hand in hand to create an eclectic and diverse social event. We promoted community cohesion by bringing together groups from areas all across the town; including Reddish, Marple, Brinnington, Cheadle, Shawheath, the Heatons, Woodley and Offerton.

We also showcased the type of workshops we would deliver once we established the Seven Miles Out arts centre in a permanent space in the Market area.

These activities included; workshops in comedy, dance, graffiti, DJing and skateboarding and interactive arts including screen printing, paint-a-pot, T-shirt design, face painting, henna and gaming.

Even though the creative elements of the town’s successful Portas bid were singled out for positive praise by Mary herself, the selection committee in charge of choosing the sectors to make-up Stockport’s new Town Team Committee failed to include a position for cultural, creative or community organisations.

Despite this being pointed out to the selection committee, this was never rectified on any publicity or literature, including the council’s own website, until after the deadline for nominations had passed.

Stockport’s Town Team Committee was selected to have an extremely high bias towards the business and retail sectors of the town, with only one lone voice, Ted Doan of Stockport Plaza, representing cultural and creative organisations.

Mary Portas states in her review that “it’s up to local areas to decide what works for them” when it comes to the creation of their Town Team. We believe that what Stockport really needs is a cultural revolution, not a council led committee rehashing old ideas.

Due to the extreme imbalance of representation on this decision making body, we believe it is imperative that the creative community and cultural organisations of Stockport come together as a collective to have their voices heard.

We believe this group can move things forward in a positive and creative light by working together collaboratively in order to bring the core Portas principles to life.

We want this group to be positive, productive, enjoyable, informative, friendly and fun. We believe meetings should be held in relaxed, social environments like The Arden Arms, Restore Cafe, Barista and The Plaza Cafe.

We are hoping other like-minded individuals and organisations will join us and become part of this creative collective which we have named The Glass Umbrella.


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