The culture club

LOVE MUSIC  FESTIVAL  Romano Jilo dance group pictured before performing at the music and dance event at Barkers Pool.     30 April 2011
LOVE MUSIC FESTIVAL Romano Jilo dance group pictured before performing at the music and dance event at Barkers Pool. 30 April 2011
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A celebration of ‘precious’ multicultural mix in city with a diverse range of events

THERE were times this weekend when Sheffield could have almost been anywhere in the world.

On Fargate you could wash down a Spanish paella, German salami or an authentic French crepe with a bottle of Polish lager served by a burly chap from Poznon.

And close by the continental market in Barkers Pool delivered the loudest and most visual message about Sheffield’s increasing cultural diversity with One Sheffield Many Cultures, an afternoon of singing, dance and music showcasing some of the dozens of nationalities that call Sheffield home.

Among those watching a display of traditional Burmese Don dancing was 22-year-old student Hserney Gay, part of the city’s 200-strong Burmese Karen community.

“I was born in a refugee camp in Thailand but got a chance to settle here,” he said. Now living in Gleadless, he added: “It’s a diverse city and people here are friendly.”

Simon Hyacinth, of Sharrow, was watching youngsters of different races play on a court set up by Football Unites Racism Divides.

He said: “Football and music are key tools in bringing young people together with a shared interest and developing positive relationships.

“Sheffield’s got a multi-culturalism feel to it so why shouldn’t we celebrate it? In recent years with the influx of immigrants from various communities around the world it has become even more multi-cultural.”

Accountant Paul Middleton, aged 35, listening to gypsy folk music with his wife Mary and toddler Paul, said: “Living in Pitsmoor you really appreciate Sheffield’s diversity. There’s lot of different communities there and it makes Sheffield a more interesting place. I grew up in a school with different cultures. That’s really healthy.”

The Bishop of Sheffield and Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield opened the event.

“Like any precious thing diversity and people living well together needs to be protected and nurtured and this afternoon is about building that sense of being one city with many different cultures,” said the Rt Rev Steven Croft.

Mr Blomfield added that when he moved to the city, one of the things that struck him was how warm people were.

He added: “Too often we’re on the back foot when we’re challenging those with the vilest views in our society. We need to be on the front foot celebrating multi-culturalism. It’s a richer place, a stronger place, a better place because of all the people who have come from throughout the world.”

As Irish dancers and rap group Majestic Crew prepared to go on stage, he added: “We take too many of the good things about Sheffield for granted and one of the great things is this rich diversity of communities and cultures so celebrating it in this way, bringing people together from different traditions and backgrounds, is fantastic.

“Something people say about Sheffielders is we’ve got a great story but we don’t shout about it enough. This is one way of doing that and the organisers should be congratulated.”