Passionate pleas were made at the meeting on the Macclesfield vision for a new arts hub.
Speakers and members of the audience said arts and events were key to the future regeneration of the town.
Jeff Coghlan, 45, who founded digital gaming firm Matmi, said the town must invest in arts and culture, adding: “People like Jane Munro and Lynne Jones from Barnaby Festival have done more for Macclesfield than the council has in a long time.
“We need to invest in an arts hub, a central place for us to meet and be creative.
“Young people are leaving Macclesfield because it’s not hip, we need to stop talking about silk. The reason I’m still here is because of things like Barnaby which make it cool.”
John Hartshorn, from Macclesfield Heritage, Culture and Arts, said: “We need a professional gallery and dedicated multi functional arts centre.
“There’s too much about bricks and mortar in this vision document and not enough about arts and events.
“The number of times I hear people knocking Macclesfield. We should be encouraging positive thinking about the town.”