The spirit of freedom and equality is blowing through Sheffield’s rebellious streets like a summer breeze. It’s May, and the season kicks off with another Temporary Autonomous Arts (TAA) extravaganza coming to a secret site somewhere between 19th and 21st. Arts, films, performances, stuff for kids, music, loadsa fun from the Art and Soul Kollective […]

The spirit of freedom and equality is blowing through Sheffield’s rebellious streets like a summer breeze. It’s May, and the season kicks off with another Temporary Autonomous Arts (TAA) extravaganza coming to a secret site somewhere between 19th and 21st. Arts, films, performances, stuff for kids, music, loadsa fun from the Art and Soul Kollective (ASK). Last year’s urban myth was that the venue was squatted, but Sheffield’s finest police actually gave our brave urban explorers an emergency phone number in case of attack by the property speculator’s henchmen…

Next up is Sheffield’s annual Anarchist Book Fair on Saturday 21st May, 10am to 6pm at Bank Street Arts. This promises to be a full day, with publishers, book sales, comics, art and food. Discussion sessions will range from beginners’ introductions to activist security. Film screenings include one called “Bastards of Utopia” … What!? Author David Harvie will be talking about “Moments of Excess: Movements, Protest and Everyday Life” by The Free Association. And there will surely be a social in the evening. If this all seems a bit revolutionary, you need to know that there’s a fine, proud tradition of anarchist thought, activism and philosophy which goes right back as far as the origins of Marxism, maybe much further. It challenges all forms of power and hierarchy, from the day-to-day annoyances to state domination and crazy greedy capitalism. Sheffield has a rich history and grassroots network of anarchist activity, from anarcho-feminism through various collectives, to the recently formed Mutual Aid Sheffield (MASH). Watch this space: it’s just been reclaimed!

Another call to arms, hands and purses in a battle of the people and the stuff that’s good about our city vs. the forces of property “development”. Take a stroll over to Portland Works on Randall Street, just behind St. Mary’s roundabout, or go to portlandworks.co.uk to see the coolest, most rightful use of old Sheffield in new times. This place really has some history, since it is thought the world’s first ever stainless steel cutlery was made there. It’s got Sheffield’s only “little mesters” shops still in use in the metal trades. And that’s not all. It also houses musicians and artists, engineering and woodcrafts – a buzzing part of the local economy, with dozens of people working and loads of potential.

The plan is for one of Sheffield’s first ever “community buy-outs” before it is part-demolished to make more flats and offices that we don’t really need. It could be improved even more. Long-term ideas range from a roof garden and sculptures to performance art. Almost everyone seems to agree this would be fantastic, so the landlord has withdrawn his planning application to allow time for tenants and supporters to develop their solid alternative blueprint. These volunteers are vital. If you can help with ideas or knowledge then now is the time to come forward. The really crucial bit is to raise the money to buy the building as soon as possible, so the next step is a massively important share issue coming up in June. Fancy owning a part in some property run on social and cooperative principles? Every £100 share will make a difference. Think about it and get in touch. Don’t miss Steel City Pulse at Portland Works on 7th May, a percussion performance to raise money for the Save Portland Works campaign.

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