Off the Shelf receives grant of over £70k, as Sheffield festival prepares to mark 30th year

Sheffield’s Off the Shelf Festival of Words festival has been awarded a grant of more than £70,000, as it prepares to mark its 30th year.

By Sarah Marshall
Friday, 20th August 2021, 10:01 am

The festival, which is one of the longest established literature festivals in the UK, has received a total of £73,739 from the Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants.

Organisers say the grant will support the festival in delivering over 80 live and online events during this year’s programme, which runs from October 15-31.

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director of City Culture, Partnerships and Regional Engagement at the University of Sheffield said: “We are delighted to receive this essential

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Michael Rosen pictured at a previous year's Off The Shelf festival, ahead of giving a talk

funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England for Off the Shelf literature festival - in this, it’s 30th year.

"The support endorses the University of Sheffield’s commitment to culture and means that we are able to share a wealth of local, regional, national and international talent with the people of South Yorkshire. We can also celebrate the value of words - which is even more poignant given current times.

“All those who play the National lottery help ensure the future of such festivals as ours. On behalf of everyone at Off the Shelf we’d like to say a big thank you!”

Pete Massey, Director North, Arts Council England added: “Books of all types have provided much needed solace for so many of us over the last 18 months so it’s great to see that the Off the Shelf Festival will return in October with a mix of live and online events so people can attend in a way that they are comfortable with.

John Lydon aka 'Johnny Rotten' pictured at the Octagon Centre in Sheffield as part of the Off the Shelf festival.

"I’m delighted that we have supported the festival in its 30 th year through our National Lottery Project Grants programme and hopethat many people will join in celebrating this incredible milestone.”

The funding has enabled Off the Shelf to appoint writer Désirée Reynolds to curate the Black Women Write Now strand of the festival following its successful inaugural launch last year.

Désirée said: “It means a great deal to me to share my love of books and speaking story to power. The strand is intergenerational, interdisciplinary, and just filled with joy.

“This year’s pioneer theme; ‘On Her Shoulders We Stand’ is to recognise that we’ve been writing and publishing here for years, and to recognise the innovators and those of us who are pushing the boundaries.”

Professor Chris Hopkins is an expert in 20th century popular novels and has previously hosted The Cigarette Card History of Popular Fiction at Off the Shelf

Organisers are offering a deal wherby those who become a “friend of Off the Shelf” by the end of August for £20 will be eligible for priority booking, buy one get one free deals, special offers on selected events, entry fee into a prize draw as well as “supporting the festival so it can continue to be sustainable, accessible and continue to deliver diverse content to the people of South Yorkshire.”

To become a Friend of Off the Shelf contact: Sheffield Theatres Box Office (open Mon - Sat 12-6.00pm) on 0114 249 6000. The Priority Booking period is from midday Wednesday, September 1 -

Sunday, September 5, and tickets for the general public will go on sale at midday on Monday, September 6.

The festival has been organised by the University of Sheffield and supported by Arts Council England and Sheffield Hallam University.

Former Sheffield Poet Laureate Otis Mensah at the launch of 2018's 'Off the Shelf 'Festival on The Moor. Picture: Steve Ellis