Sheffield Culture Collective calls for funding to be ‘levelled up’
Culture has the potential to become a ‘healing force against the negative social, economic and cultural impacts of the pandemic’, according to members of Sheffield Culture Collective.
Whilst many have now had a jab of the Covid-19 vaccine in order to boost immune response against the virus, head of the collective Dame Julie Kenny suggests that culture could be ‘the shot in the arm to boost the economy, address inequality and promote social wellbeing’.
Sheffield Culture Collective is a public private partnership which was formed in 2019 in response to a national enquiry into how cities can use culture to drive growth and create a stronger and fairer society. The collective has now launched its first ever strategy for how culture can unlock Sheffield’s untapped economic and social potential.
Speaking at the launch, Dame Julie proposed that ‘by working across the public and private sector we can systematically address problems and inequality’.
In order to address these issues, The Culture Collective has spotlighted four pivotal arts projects which could become the north’s cultural crown jewels.
Firstly, S1 Artspace at the globally renowned Park Hill Estate. Park Hill Art Space will be a new national flagship for arts, culture and heritage at the largest listed structure in Europe. It will feature one of the largest contemporary art galleries in the North of England, alongside workspace for artists and creative businesses, a dedicated learning and community space, heritage flats, and accommodation for visiting artists, surrounded by a six-acre sculpture park. More than half of the building will be income generating.
Secondly, Graves Gallery and Central library, which was first opened in 1934 and has the potential to be recognised as one of the UK’s leading art museums. Situated at the heart of Sheffield city centre, the building is home to Sheffield’s visual art, local studies and special library collections.
Thirdly, Harmony Works, which is a partnership of education and music organisations led by Sheffield City Council. It delivers music education to 176 schools and 74,000 children across Sheffield and the City Region, and will be a permanent home for music education in the city. It will provide a physical focus and enable music education to touch the lives of thousands more children and young people in the city region, whatever their background.
Finally, the Tinsley Art Project will be a public art trail inspired by Sheffield’s rich cultural heritage. Internationally-renowned artist Alex Chinneck was commissioned in 2016 to design a major public artwork, resulting in plans for a public art trail featuring a series of four 30-m high sculptures. Further temporary sculptures were installed in Tinsley in 2017 and 2019.
These projects form only a strand of the Culture Collective’s work and are recognised by the ensemble as having the potential to begin to transform Sheffield’s cultural offering, make culture accessible to a new audience and support the economic recovery of our city.
The group is calling for funding to be levelled up, citing a lower cultural investment in South Yorkshire than other areas – at just over £20m or £15/person. To put this in perspective, West Yorkshire receives £47/person and Greater Manchester receives £38/person.
According to a report published in summer 2020, culture has significant wider economic and social benefits including supporting tourism, creative industries, health, education, community and individual wellbeing. These contribute at least a further £170m to the local economy and £1.2bn in individual wellbeing.
Kim Streets, Chief Executive Sheffield Museums Trust, adds: “It’s often said that our cultural sector punches above its weight doing amazing things on a shoestring yet with the right level of investment there is potential to do so much more and better.”
Sheffield Property Association, the collective voice for property in Sheffield, has played a key role in the collective’s strategic development and will be helping to launch the Sheffield: A Time To Thrive strategy with senior representatives from the Council, Sheffield City Region and Arts Council England.
Martin McKervey, chairman of the Sheffield Property Association, said: “Successful places are not solely defined by their economic output. What’s equally important is quality of life and vibrancy.
Culture needs to be at the heart of our region’s growth agenda and by working together, we can bring about sustainable and inclusive growth.”
To watch the strategy launch at 9am on Thursday 17th June and hear key speakers register at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/sheffield-a-time-to-thrive-registration-157022314971