2016 is being declared Sheffield’s ‘Year of Making’.
The high-profile, £1.5 million festival will involve a big programme of events, bringing together craftspeople, artists, musicians, the business community and academics.
The aim is to celebrate what Sheffield does best - from advanced manufacturing to visual arts, theatre, music, heritage crafts and more - as well as identifying new paths to success for the city.
It is being led by the Sheffield Culture Consortium - set up in 2011 and comprised of the city’s arts chiefs - along with major partner Sheffield University. The campaign is also being backed by Sheffield Hallam University, the Chamber of Commerce, Made in Sheffield, The Cutlers’ Company and Sheffield Council.
A ‘rich, city-wide’ programme is promised, ranging from exhibitions and theatre to heritage trails and concerts.
New elements of existing events, such as Tramlines and Off the Shelf, will be incorporated under the Year of Making banner.
The official launch is planned for February, but the first date on the calendar is In The Making, an exhibition at the Millennium Gallery exploring Victorian art critic John Ruskin’s ideas of making.
In July a further Millennium Gallery show simply called Made In Sheffield is planned, and a production at the Crucible by the Sheffield People’s Theatre will begin in June.
Other highlights include Hills Fest - a ‘celebration of arts and industry’ in July - and a large conference on heritage in April. Further events and activities for business, manufacture and industry still need to be found.
Kim Streets, chief executive of Museums Sheffield, which is part of the consortium, said the festival would help the city to ‘shout louder’.
“We hide our light, all the time, we’re not shouting loudly enough, so this is a real opportunity for us to do it, through the events and the exhibitions and the conversations about what Sheffield is,” she said.
Consortium chair Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Sheffield University’s engagement director, said organisers had been ‘banging the drum’ to build interest for much of 2015, and that the response was enthusiastic.
“It’s about recognising what the city’s narrative is, and where the next generation of makers is going to come from.
“The Local Enterprise Partnership and the universities are looking at the magic figure of creating 70,000 jobs in Sheffield City Region, but where are the jobs that are going to come from within the city?
“I keep getting asked ‘Is Sheffield not aspirational?’ - I think it is, but it’s just reticent.”
The inspiration for the festival sprang from the two Millennium Gallery shows, Kim said. “We began thinking about how to make it into something bigger, to explore what Sheffield is about, its narrative, and what we make here.”
The two universities have contributed £500,000. Commissions worth £350,000 are being lined up throughout the year, and the festival team is trying to raise £1.5 million in total from sources such as the Arts Council and businesses.
“Thousands of people make things in this city,” said Vanessa. “The routes to market are unlimited. We want people to have the opportunity to sell, to make, produce and grow.”