A year in the life of guild with ambitions for Sheffield’s creativity

Jane Shields, pictured at the Des Amis Cafe, Sheffield.
Jane Shields, pictured at the Des Amis Cafe, Sheffield.
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A society that aims to realise the potential of Sheffield’s creative sector has attracted hundreds of members in its first year, exceeding its leaders’ expectations.

The Sheffield Creative Guild was set up just over 12 months ago in the hope of boosting the profile and recognition of businesses, individuals and organisations working in a wide range of fields, from art and music to design, digital technology and literature.

Enjoying a creative guild party

Enjoying a creative guild party

Over 300 people have signed up so far, with those involved getting the chance to swap skills through a ‘time bank’, attend events and secure a listing in a special online directory, likened to a ‘Yellow Pages of creativity’ for the city.

Jane Shields, the guild’s development manager, said the response had been ‘better than planned’ and there was an ambition to expand the organisation’s activities, as well as to attract more funding.

“If you work in the creative sector, and if you work with creative people, then being part of this community is really beneficial,” she said.

The guild emerged from Sheffield’s unsuccessful bid to become the 2013 UK Capital of Culture, and was launched with £70,000 in funding from the Arts Council, the city council and both universities.

Pocket guides have been printed about the guild's activities

Pocket guides have been printed about the guild's activities

Initial members included music producers, stonemasons and performers, but Jane said that, a year on, the society’s make-up reflected the breadth of Sheffield’s creative sector to an even greater degree.

“It’s hugely eclectic. You would expect artists, poets, makers and designers to come on board, which they have, but also consultants, people who work for small businesses, architects, designers, and people working in museums and heritage have joined.

“There really is a huge pool of knowledge within the guild. No one person is really similar to another. It means things like the time bank are that much more useful.”

More than 150 hours of time had been ‘traded’ between members, Jane continued.

The Sheffield Creative Guild has members from a vast range of disciplines

The Sheffield Creative Guild has members from a vast range of disciplines

“We weren’t sure how popular it would be. Once people understand it, their eyes light up and they realise how useful it can be to them, especially as a freelancer. Once people have used it they have gone back and used it again and again.

“This time next year we will have traded a lot more hours with a lot more people involved.”

Guild members Laurence Peacock and Hollie Morrell developed Boris the Musical - a satirical production about politician Boris Johnson - with assistance from the guild.

“They had professional photos taken through the time bank. I know the guild has been really helpful to them.”

The Sheffield Creative Guild has members from a vast range of disciplines

The Sheffield Creative Guild has members from a vast range of disciplines

More than 20 events have been held by the guild over the year, some in partnership with other venues and happenings around the city, such as DINA, Theatre Delicatessen and Tramlines.

These are free to members, an offer that entices people to join and take out a subscription - a source of vital money, as the £70,000 ran out last year.

Jane said another funding application was being prepared, but added: “We now have to make a business model that’s sustainable financially. More members means more income; it sounds quite crude but it’s true.”

A particular goal is to set up a ‘library of things’, a facility inspired by a service in London offering loans of equipment for creative purposes, avoiding the need for members to make expensive commitments.

“For example, if you run a theatre company you might need access to a set of theatre lights.”

A first anniversary party is happening tonight (Thursday) from 7pm at Yellow Arch Studios, Neepsend, featuring live music, storytelling, stalls and food. Tickets £5, free to members.

Visit https://weareone-scg.eventbrite.co.uk for details. Log on to www.sheffieldcreativeguild.com for further information.