New music and events programme to celebrate Sheffield as a 'city of sanctuary'

Sharrow Carnival at Mount Pleasant Park, one of the Sanctuary Way venues under consideration. Picture: Chris Etchells
Sharrow Carnival at Mount Pleasant Park, one of the Sanctuary Way venues under consideration. Picture: Chris Etchells
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A major programme of concerts, events and education projects celebrating Sheffield's status as a 'city of sanctuary' along with its cultural industries and heritage is being lined up for next year.

The Music City Foundation has brought together community representatives, music groups, educational bodies and charities to organise an ambitious series of happenings throughout 2018.

The non-profit foundation - which is working on the plans following an unsuccessful bid to 'buy back' Sheffield's Tramlines music festival - has a long-term target to hold 12 events a year under the banner of 'Sanctuary Way', including international music and fringe activities in and around the city centre.

Up to ten venues, indoors and outdoors, could be involved along a route stretching from The Wicker to Mount Pleasant Park in Sharrow and Bramall Lane. The foundation wants to form partnerships with existing enterprises to help them develop their own events.

The blueprint was rolled out at a meeting attended by interested parties, and the concept is being discussed with Sheffield United, the cathedral, Meadowhall, the city council, SIV and both universities.

A package of potential funding is being put together covering sponsorship, grants, crowdfunding, ticket sales and donations. Supporters include the classical composer and conductor Tolga Kashif, Level 42 horn player John Thirkell and Philip Gass, former manager of the Beautiful South.

Winston Hazel, the foundation's director, said: "Sanctuary Way is a means of engaging the local and international communities in Sheffield and showcasing the cultural industries of Sheffield, that have music at their heart."

Sheffield became the UK's first City of Sanctuary, welcoming asylum-seekers and refugees, in 2007.

Earlier this year the foundation announced its £1.2 million proposal to take over Tramlines had been accepted in principle by board members. A public ownership model would have been followed, with shares offered.

A key aim was to protect the festival’s free fringe element and its links to the middle of Sheffield, but the bid did not receive shareholder approval and Music City withdrew. Tramlines is set to nearly double its main stage capacity by moving to Hillsborough Park in 2018.

Winston, a Sheffield DJ, added: "We need to recognise that everyone has a lot to offer in terms of music, culture, the economy and society. We want to bring people together, encouraging them to grow events with our support and aligning with some of the great things already happening in Sheffield. We want to underline the community ethos with access for all people."

Music City's chairman Stephen Thomas added: "Of all the businesses I have ever been involved in, this is one of the most exciting. I am extremely proud of the team we have pulled together and I am certain we will establish Music City Foundation as a beacon of good driven by the inspirational power of music.”

Details of a full launch for the initiative are expected soon.