Page Hall Festival will take place online this March and will offer all people in Sheffield the opportunity to discover a true reflection of the area that is so often labelled as having a negative reputation.
As part of a wider Sheffield Council funded initiative designed to enhance community cohesiveness in the area, the festival will include the sharing of stories experienced by those who currently live in or who have connections with Page Hall.
Director of Page Hall Festival, Sam Holland, said: “Page Hall is one of those places I’ve always been curious about.
"I always wondered how such diverse cultures are in quite a small part of the city.
"There is something there that is quintessentially Sheffield, a multicultural feel. It’s very Sheffield and not at the same time.”
Having lived in Sheffield for most of his life, Sam told how he was sceptical about the reputation of Page Hall, that ‘surely there is much more to it’.
He said: “A walk from Page Hall Road down to Hinde House Lane will tell you there is something special about this place, whether it’s the welcoming smiles or spontaneous football matches in the streets, the aromas of global cuisines or boxers sparring in their local clubs.
"All of this nestled in one of the city’s most historical areas. We want the festival to demonstrate these elements that make Page Hall what it is and the pride of the people who live here.”
Sam describes the festival as an unprecedented and inclusive event, showcasing what and who makes Page Hall.
Residents from all backgrounds and generations are invited to share their stories of belonging, community pride and unity, through a variety of forms, be it videos, poems or songs.
The festival also hopes to give people something positive to focus on and to promote togetherness amid the current challenges of the pandemic.
Sam said: “Right now, there is so little for people to engage with. Events can promote so much for well-being.”
He believes that the arts can positively impact communities and bring people together, especially when it comes to social issues.
Having more events in Page Hall could provide those who live and work there something more positive to identify with and change the existing narrative.
Sam said: “Page Hall has over the years wanted people there to have something to represent who they are, to show a different side.”
He encouraged people in Sheffield to be more open in seeing this other side of Page Hall and added: “Speak to the people in the community. What is this place? Who are those people? There are a lot of negatives that are so easily outweighed by positives.”
Page Hall is what many generations have called ‘home’ and where businesses have been bringing all people in Sheffield together with the speciality products they offer.
There are buildings in the area that are steeped in history, for example, the working men’s club used to be a main arts space.
However, these are parts of Page Hall that people don’t often see or choose to remember, as they are often overlooked or forgotten about in favour of the negatives.
Tchiyiwe Chihana, press and audience development manager for the festival, said: “The festival is one way to rehabilitate the image of Page Hall, for community cohesiveness.
"It is unfair to label it as a place for migrants as it is not exclusively migrants who live there. The solution is to uplift the community.”
She described how both residents and business owners are ‘part of the Page Hall landscape’ and in order to show what Page Hall really is, it is their voices, art and experiences that need to e put forward.
“For the community to thrive, you need an external and internal platform to do that,” she added.
Page Hall Festival will offer two days of online activities featuring everyday faces from around the neighbourhood and surrounding areas.
All events will be free to ensure the festival is as open and accessible as possible.
The team, which is also behind the Migration Matters festival, is currently working with other organisations in the city to finalise the schedule.
Two projects that people can already get involved with are Page Hall Smiles and Turning the Page.
Page Hall Smiles brings Roma and non-Roma residents together to co-create a short film, images and a digital scrapbook exhibition focussed on the experiences, identity and voices of Page Hall residents.
Turning the Page explores the history of Page Hall and Grimesthorpe and the people from all over the world who have contributed to what the area looks like today.
Ideas so far have been ‘really encouraging’ and it is hoped that the festival will be able to showcase a range of art forms, skills and passions from people of all ages.
If you have a song, poem or story about Page Hall that you want to share, have learned a new skill during lockdown - whether that is cooking, knitting, fancy dress, paintings, cakes, skating, dancing, DIY, or something else - participation in the festival is welcomed.
The deadline for submissions is March 1 and they can be made via email: [email protected]
Page Hall Festival takes place on March 26 and 27.
For more information, see: www.pagehallfestival.co.uk