At the time of writing, the Festival of Debate is five weeks away. Tickets are flying out already for the 75+ events in the programme, indicating that people in Sheffield are eager to find out more about the economic, environmental, political and social issues we collectively face.

For those of you who enjoy a locally-made ale, this year we’ll be collaborating with Abbeydale Brewery on a festival beer called Agent of Change, so keep an eye out for it in all good pubs near you.

Our hope for this year’s Festival of Debate is that through talking, listening and, most importantly, empathising with one another, we can collectively begin to shape our own horizons and learn more about how, as individuals and as groups, we can improve the world we live in.

Depending on who you talk to and the issues you’re discussing, the future can look bleak, but don’t ever forget that change is the only constant, and that effecting change is one of the unique privileges of being human and being alive in the present.

Carry hope in your fists, Sheffield. Let’s lead the way this year and show the rest of the UK how it’s done.

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MATT ABBOTT: TWO LITTLE DUCKS
Fri 20 April | 7:30-10pm | Theatre Deli | £10
Exploring the reasons behind the working-class Leave vote, whilst exposing the harsh realities of the Calais Jungle refugee camp, this is a vital and visceral spoken word show for the masses. Using poetic flair and observational storytelling, it’s an engaging and accessible production from one of the UK’s rising stars. Tickets

THE MAYORAL ELECTION: DEVOLUTION OR GOVERNMENT DICTAT?
Tue 24 April | 7-9pm | Quaker Meeting House | Free
In association with Sheffield For Democracy
In May, Sheffield City Region will elect a mayor, and Sheffield For Democracy is hosting a hustings event to introduce the candidates and their views to voters. Come and find out why they are standing and their plans for the city region. Hear their takes on the recent differences between the four local authorities – Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster – and how they can be resolved.Tickets

CHARLES DOWDING: NO-DIG ORGANIC GARDENING
Thu 26 April | 6-8pm | The Diamond LT3 | £7.50
Charles Dowding has led the field of organic no-dig growing for 35 years, challenging common gardening myths and misconceptions. He has proven that you can achieve plentiful yields year-round, with less weeds, while improving soil health. He has produced numerous articles, books and a YouTube channel, and has appeared on the BBC. This talk will be followed by a Q&A with Charles and signed books will be for sale. Tickets

ED MILIBAND & GEOFF LLOYD: REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
Fri 27 April | 7pm | City Hall Ballroom | £12/£8
Former Labour Leader Ed Miliband and radio presenter Geoff Lloyd bring their hit podcast, Reasons To Be Cheerful, to Sheffield City Hall for a special live episode. Expect optimism, ideas, special guests, stories of Ed’s failed interactions with inanimate objects, and Geoff’s interactions with animate ones. Tickets

OUR MEL PRESENTS: CELEBRATING WOMEN OF COLOUR
Sun 29 April | 4-7pm | Showroom Workstation Creative Lounge | Pay As You Feel
In association with Our Mel
Our Mel in collaboration with Nadia Jama (BAME Officer Central CLP) presents Celebrating Women of Colour. This event is an opportunity to celebrate women of colour within the community, hearing about their personal journeys, challenges and achievements. It will include a short film screening, stalls, nibbles and drinks. Tickets

DRUGS, HARM REDUCTION & THE LAW
Thu 3 May | 6:30-8:30pm | SU Auditorium | £5/£4
A panel discussion exploring new approaches to reducing the harm caused by illegal drugs, featuring: Fiona Measham, Professor of Criminology at Durham University and Director of The Loop, a non-profit NGO that introduced drug safety testing to the UK; Neil Woods, former undercover police officer and chair of LEAP UK; and Anne-Marie Cockburn of Anyone’s Child, whose 15-year-old daughter Martha died of an MDMA overdose in 2013. Tickets

DODGE & CO: TAX DODGERS’ MASTERCLASS
Sat 5 May | 2-3:30pm | Theatre Deli | Pay As You Feel
Paradise Papers? Pesky legislation? Socialists? There’s never been a harder time to have a lot of money — and keep it! Join Dodge & Co associates Jason and Laurence for an all-new, interactive (and entirely legal) afternoon of offshore finance tips and tricks. Learn how to hide your assets, set up a shell company and buy the global citizenship that works for you! Don’t delay. Go offshore and save money today. @DodgeAndCoTickets

PROTEST: STORIES OF RESISTANCE
Wed 9 May | 7-9:30pm | Millennium Gallery | £9/£7
Written with historians, sociologists and eyewitnesses, this collection follows fictional characters caught up in the real-life struggles of the grassroots movements that agitated for change in Britain. Hosted by author, activist and officer of Stop The War Coalition, John Rees, the evening will feature Martyn Bedford and Joanna Quinn reading their stories about Orgreave and Greenham Common, alongside other writers and activists. Tickets

TRUMP! THE MUSICAL!
Wed 9 – Sat 12 May | 7:30-9pm | Theatre Deli | £13.09/£10.99
From the perpetrators of Boris the Musical! comes a new satirical, songtastic extravaganza. 2020. Time to Make Donald Great Again! But can King Nigel Farage the First of England get his trade deal? When will Kim Jong-un stop messing about with missiles? And why has Vladimir Putin gone suspiciously quiet? Join Blowfish Theatre for an evening of raucous comedy, original music and one truly awful wig. Trump! the Musical! is the show that proves that just because the world’s being run by a power-crazed narcissist who will bomb us all to hell, it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it while it lasts.Tickets

Tickets for Festival of Debate events are available through several outlets, including Tickets For Good and SIV Tickets. To buy tickets for paid events, or to sign up to attend free events, visit festivalofdebate.com.