Creating change in Stockport and activating spaces with art

Drawing visual

Creating change in Stockport and activating spaces with art

We met John Macaulay and Sophie Macaulay, the team behind GRIT Studios in Stockport and founders of Art Battle Manchester.

They shared what has made Art Battle successful and how they have worked with local authorities and developers to take over empty spaces in town centres and on development sites. Starting out in 2013 with 250 attendees, they never use the same venue twice and their events attract a diverse crowd

In 2022 they took over the former Debenhams in Stockport, selling out 1000 tickets a month before the event. The community ethos of Art Battle is strong with the team seeing the benefits it brings in showcasing local artists and creating a paid model of opportunities for them further down the line, bringing in small businesses like breweries and food and raising money for local charities. There are strong relationships in place with both the council and the BID to bring ideas to life. The next Art Battle is in Manchester on 5 May at Media City, Salford.

Artist work at Art Battle

18 months ago, John and Sophie created GRIT Studios CIC, home to 11 artists and with a pop-up shop in Stockport town centre. From reusing wooden parts for lights, wicker men, steampunk and glass creations there is a wealth of talent on site, attracted by the natural light in the building and affordable rents including a mosaic artist running a range of community workshops. Getting to know their neighbours, there’s also some guerrilla gardening taking place and street art being created in this light industrial area on the edge of the town centre.

GRIT Studios artist work and livening up Canal Street, Stockport

Really exciting to see how GRIT Studios and Art Battle develop and their impact locally and beyond Greater Manchester.