Sheffield leaders unveil big plans and say culture could be key boost to economy

Culture is the shot in the arm which could help the UK out of the economic turmoil caused by the Covid pandemic, say Sheffield business leaders and politicians.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 3:00 am

Although the social, economic and cultural effects of the pandemic will be felt for many years, culture has the opportunity to become a great healer, say members of Sheffield Culture Collective, a public-private partnership formed in 2019 in response to a national inquiry into how cities can use culture to drive growth and create a stronger and fairer society.

They pointed to four key projects planned for Sheffield.

“Culture could be a tonic - the shot in the arm to boost the economy, address inequality and promote social well-being,” said Dame Julie Kenny, chair of the collective.“It is crucial to how we recover from the pandemic. Culture contributes to healthy and sustainable communities and helps give cities and towns a rich identity.“Art, culture and heritage delivers an enormous benefit to the economy and to how we live our lives. We must use this opportunity to redefine how culture is valued and funded.”Dame Julie spoke as Sheffield Culture Collective launched its first strategy for how culture can unlock Sheffield’s untapped economic and social potential.“By working in partnership across the public and private sector we can systematically address problems and inequality,” she added.“We can unleash Sheffield’s untapped potential and benefit culture at every level in the city.”The Culture Collective has spotlighted the delivery of four pivotal arts projects which it believes could become the North’s cultural crown jewels.S1 Artspace at Park Hill will be a new national flagship for arts, culture and heritage at the largest listed structure in Europe.

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A visualisation of what the illuminated ‘cracked’ chimney artwork could look like next to the M1
A visualisation of what the illuminated ‘cracked’ chimney artwork could look like next to the M1

Park Hill Art Space will feature one of the largest contemporary art galleries in the North of England, alongside workspace for artists and creative businesses, a learning and community space, heritage flats and accommodation for visiting artists, surrounded by a six-acre sculpture park.

The Graves Gallery and Central Library, opened in 1934, has the potential to be recognised as one of the UK’s leading art museums, say the collective.

A commitment has been made that plans and next steps for the redevelopment of the gallery and library will be agreed this year. The project has been identified as a priority for Sheffield City Council.Harmony Works, a partnership of education and music organisations, led by Sheffield City Council and delivering music education to 176 schools and 74,000 children across Sheffield and the City Region, will be a permanent home for music education in the city.The Tinsley Art Project will be a public art trail inspired by Sheffield’s rich cultural heritage.

An impression of what the sculpture park at Park Hill could look like

It will feature a series of four 30m-high brick chimneys alongside the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal. The first sculpture will be an illuminated ‘cracked’ chimney rising from a redundant canalside pumphouse, visible from the M1.

Artist Alex Chinneck, who created the upside-down car and knotted red postbox installations in the area, has been leading the project.The collective is calling for funding to be levelled up. Total investment in South Yorkshire is less than other combined authority areas, at just over £20m or £15 per person.West Yorkshire receives £47 per person and Greater Manchester receives £38 per person.