What could the Great Exhibition of the North look like in Sheffield?

Plans for the Great Exhibition in the North in Sheffield.
Plans for the Great Exhibition in the North in Sheffield.
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With £5m in Government funding and a further £5m in sponsorship, the Great Exhibition of the North could take over Sheffield if the city wins the right to host the event.

Bid leaders were delighted to find out Sheffield was in the final four to put on the exhibition in 2018. Here’s what they said to try to convince the Government to choose the city.

Great Exhibition. Gateway of the North

Great Exhibition. Gateway of the North

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Sheffield in final four to host Great Exhibition of the North

“Every planet has a north. Sheffield is the gateway to our north, the starting point for our Great Exhibition and a thrilling voyage into the future.

“We will celebrate our common ground, show how towns and cities from Sheffield to Newcastle and Liverpool to Hull have shaped the world and how – through independent creativity, radicalism, ingenuity and enterprise – we are shaping the cities and communities of tomorrow.

“Our Great Exhibition will reveal, too, our pioneering contributions to everything from energy generation and low carbon technologies to life sciences, with mind-blowing exhibitions, lively debate and catalysts for exciting new collaborations. The greatest artists, musicians, scientists and business talents from across the north will guide our journey, illuminated by Northern Lights, a pan-region neon installation.

“It will be an exhibition like no other – because McGough’s city twinned with Mars’ is like no other city; because our bid is led by a consortium of world class cultural organisations with a track record of delivering uniquely successful events; because we’re the UK’ s 5th most visited business destination – and because Sheffield City Region has embarked on a unique journey of its own. Government has approved our City Region Growth Plan, we’re one of the first city regions to achieve a devolution deal and over the last five years our thriving arts scene, burgeoning music sector and coronation as beer capital of the world have made us one of the most vibrant cities in the UK.”

Should Sheffield win the right to host the exhibition, it will include three core themes.

First will be Sheffield City Region as the gateway to the north.

“The north starts in Sheffield,” says the bid. “Sheffield is the point of access as one moves from south to north and east to west.

“Our gateway to the north theme will showcase Sheffield and its near neighbours as we become the stage for the Great Exhibition of the North.

“National artists with an association or relationship with the city region have been asked to bring their creative practice to explore the best possible ways of showcasing the North through Sheffield and its environment. These works will sit alongside co-produced content from the city region showcasing our industrial and post-industrial creative industries.

Second, and tieing in with the Year of Making, will be the making north theme.

“Here we will showcase the north of England as a crucible of makers, exploring the links between making, creating, innovation and enterprise and showcasing the thriving theatre, music, art and technology produced in the north. We will bring together artists living and producing work in the North, with national and international practitioners coming to the North to make work responding to the unique context and qualities of the geography and its people.”

And third will be future north, a ‘bold series of exhibitions and interventions that give a rare and thrilling preview of fantastical dreams and creative provocations for future cities’.

“Exhibits will explore robotics, advanced manufacturing, art and culture, creative and digital, technology, design, business, health and lifestyles, revealing a rich seam of ideas running throughout a series of world class venues and temporary structures.

“Key venues include the iconic Millennium Gallery and Winter Gardens, Tudor Square, the newly expanded Site Gallery and the beautiful and fully accessible Sheffield Cathedral.

“Temporary structures will provide shelter and pop-up venues in Tudor Square, the Peace Gardens and Devonshire Green – creating new and unusual spaces for people throughout the city centre.”

The bid goes on: “Across the three themes we will build on our unique, strategic position in the region, our extensive professional networks and partnerships across the north, our curatorial expertise and our new creative expression. A platform to showcase the fertile linkages between creativity, enterprise, industry and diversity – It will be a two way conversation.

“We will take the best of Sheffield City Region to our friends’ towns and cities across the north of England, reflect the journey of our city region, our pre-eminence in everything from robotics to advanced manufacturing, and design and our contribution to debates of the moment on health and sustainable living.”

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