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A Magazine for Sheffield

Hannah's Here

It’s festival season in Sheffield, with every weekend double-booked full of fun. Events at Access Space and DINA kick off the mighty Hannah Festival this month. It runs across summer, across the region and across genres, blending a festival with a printed directory of what’s great about the North of England.

Through mutual aid with attitude, the Hannah group has been doing better than the so-called Northern Powerhouse, which activist and coordinator Andy Wilson calls a mere bureaucratic dream, offering only ‘crumbs from the masters’ table’.

Named after the hard-working campaigner and suffragette Hannah Mitchell, Hannah Directory/Festival is an ever-growing group of people looking after each other by sharing, where they can, each other’s events, publicity and directly helping out. Andy says it’s arguably one of the broadest networks across the North. It works cooperatively, reaching out town-to-town, person-to-person, at a depth that not even councils can match.

Likewise, it’s a broad cross-section of types of organisation and certainly it isn’t limited to ‘the arts’. Nor is it contained within the big cities. That’s important, because towns and villages are where thousands of people live, more so in the North than in many areas. Each settlement is unique and the historical cross-connections between towns goes right back to before the current industrial empires carved up our green lands and started polluting our rivers.

Hannah Festival celebrates the North, opposing London-centric, top-down orders from people who’ve hardly even visited places like ours. Place is just place, of course. Wherever you live is your place. I’ve lived here all my life and I’d call it ‘the North of England’. ‘South Yorkshire’, ‘Yorkshire and Humberside’ and ‘Sheffield City Region’ aren’t real places. They’re government creations, and certainly they’re less real than the growing relationships between groups which Hannah Festival is helping to strengthen. Hannah Festival has got attitude.

People here are fed up with the government and media rule from the Home Counties, which dominates our culture and our whole mental environment. Hannah Festival has played and continues to play a big, well-respected part in our Northern fightback. We have to support and celebrate each other. Nothing less will do. To quote the great Emma Goldman, "If I can’t dance, it’s not my revolution."

The featured organisations for this year’s printed Hannah Directory have been chosen and will be announced very soon. On Saturday 17 June, there will be fundraising sessions at Access Space, like DIY sketchbook making with Girl Gang Sheffield. Girl Gang member Charly Calpin says Hannah Festival is a great opportunity to meet and reach people, and to support each other. Other treats include Toni Buckby teaching how to embroider with conductive thread, sewing circuits into clothing. Neil Winterburn, a long-time Hannah helper, is also coming over from Liverpool to bring us even more fun with tech and art. Later on, we’re invited to jump into DINA for an evening of entertainment which is being planned as we speak. Come out and support a worthwhile venture.

See you there, or at another festival soon.


Tue 20 June | 7:30pm | The Bath Hotel

The first meeting of a reading group beginning Caliban and The Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation by Silvia Federici. Apparently it’s good, revolutionary stuff, but pretty dense text – the sort that a collective reading and discussion can help with. If you ever liked university seminars, try this. Guaranteed left-wing conversation and beer. What’s not to like?


17 June – 1 July

It's time to cooperate, say the growing number of organisations which have rejected competition in favour of cooperative principles. Working together, Sheffield cooperatives like the Gardeners Rest (yes, it’s now a cooperative pub) are officially launching a special 500-copy edition of The Sheffield Cooperator, a newspaper started 100 years ago by Yorkshire Co-operative Party. )

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