Sheffield Renewables

For any who haven’t heard the name, here in Sheffield we’ve almost certainly all benefitted from the work of the good people at Sheffield Renewables. A volunteer-led social enterprise, this organisation was formed by a small group of individuals who were concerned about the impact of climate change and wanted to take practical action at a local level, and have recently celebrated their ten-year anniversary *raises a glass*.

Over the last decade, through the enthusiasm, support and commitment of their members and volunteers, the team at Sheffield Renewables have achieved an incredible amount in the face of government cuts to renewable energy programmes and reduced local investment. Since their inception back in 2007, they have raised £300,000 through local investors and developed five solar PV energy schemes across the city, which have so far generated over 400,000kwh of clean, renewable energy, saving 165 tonnes of CO2 in the process. That’s enough electricity to power 132 homes or make over two million cups of tea.

In doing all of this, they have undertaken the noble endeavour of creating an annual community benefit fund, which supports local organisations like the South Yorkshire Energy Centre in alleviating fuel poverty in Sheffield, as well as other local good causes. To coin a phrase found earlier in this issue: here’s to ten more years.

The UBI LAB Sheffield

A universal basic income (UBI) or citizen’s income is a system in which everyone in society gets a regular, unconditional payment, replacing most means-tested benefits. Inspired by a Festival of Debate event last year, a group of like-minded Sheffielders embarked on the path to campaign for a UBI pilot in Sheffield. They are holding two free entry events on the evenings of 2 May and 6 June at the Quaker Meeting House as part of Festival of Debate to discuss this prospect.

UBI Lab Sheffield see the increasing gap between rich and poor as evidence that the current social contract between state and citizen is failing. Although many want to do something about this, they feel powerless to change things, leading in part to a severe democratic deficit.

To compound matters, UBI Lab Sheffield also notes that drastic changes to the job market through technological advances including automaton and AI are already on their way, which will undoubtedly have a further impact on our health and wellbeing.

A UBI has been proposed by many as a potential solution to this growing set of problems. There are pilots taking place or in development all over the world, from Scotland to South Africa. Surely the only way to find out is to test it. Why not in Sheffield?

Open Up Sheffield

5-7, 12-13 May

For the 20th year running, Open Up Sheffield returns. One of the largest and most successful open studio events outside London, Open Up will see over 100 independent artists and craftspeople from all over South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire showcasing their art to the public, including 28 first-time participators.

Over the two weekends, there will be workshops, demonstrations and exhibitions all across Sheffield with free admission. You’ll be able to meet a wide-range of artists working with everything from paints and glass to textiles and ceramics. One key location to visit is The Art House, open 11am-3pm, which will have guided tours and live demonstrations, as well as exhibitions from the studio’s tutors, artists and potters.

Another must-see exhibition is by Jeremy Lawrence (Futt Futt Futt Photography), held at new vegan and vegetarian café at DINA, from 2 to 13 May. Titled Portrait of the Artist @ DINA, it will feature photographs of all the artists participating in this year’s Open Up. A brochure with more information is available on their website.

Manifesto Events

Headed up by Rob O’Shea and Stuart Basford, Manifesto Events have given us a wide variety of high-quality performers to go and see over the upcoming months, hosted at venues including the City Hall, the Hubs and the Greystones.

In particular, one musician to look out for is Mary Gauthier (The Hubs, 12 May), a folk singer-songwriter. Her tenth studio album, Rifles and Rosary Beads, was co-written with American veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan or their bereaved families, and has since received universal praise.

Laura Veirs is another singer-songwriter performing in what will be one of only three UK concerts (The Hubs, 2 June). After the success of the case/lang/veirs project, she’s touring her newest album, The Lookout (reviewed in this month's music section).

Other gigs will include BBC Folk Singer of the Year, Kris Drever (15 April), world-renowned blues artist, Eric Bibb (City Hall, 22 April), and The Soft Boys founder, Robyn Hitchcock (The Hubs, 25 May), along with many others. Full listings are available on the Manifesto website.

Cohesion Sheffield

Having successfully hosted Sheffield's first cohesion conference recently, we thought it time we let our readers know about Cohesion Sheffield.

Cohesion Sheffield is an infrastructure body set up to ensure delivery of the city-wide Cohesion Strategic Framework for Action. This is an organisation with cross-sector involvement, born out of a rise in hate crime fter the EU referendum.

It aims to make our city a place where everyone feels welcome and valued, where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

Perhaps most radically, Cohesion Sheffield adopts the view that 'cohesion is not threatened by diversity, it is threatened by deprivation' - a firm footing for tackling these kinds of problems.

If individuals or organisations are interested in contributing to this great project, get in touch with Panni Loh on

Folk Forest 2018

21-22 July, Endcliffe Park

Formerly part of Tramlines, 2018 is the year that Regather's Folk Forest at Endcliffe Park strikes out on its own, so we wanted to give you a headsup in good time about this marvellous mass of music, market stalls, workshops and family-friendly fun.

This year's music programme reads like a who's who of acts we've interviewed in Now Then, so clearly the team at Regather have good taste. In particular, Portico Quartet, Sam Amidon and John Smith are worth the cover price (£30 adults, £15 children, £70 family of four, if you're asking), but the Sheffield Beatles Project and Before Breakfast also come highly recommended.

Besides music, there is quality food and drink, including Regather's own craft beer range, heritage craft workshops, including blacksmithing, carving and clay sculpture, and t-shirt making, games and 'Concerteenies' music performance for the young ones.

Tickets are on sale now, so get 'em while they're hot. Regather are also looking for volunteers to help, so visit the site and reach out if you want to join the team.