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Heritage Now

by Now Then Sheffield
918 1583229747
Christina Quarles - Plaid About Yew, 2018. (Acrylic on canvas, 127 x 101.6 cm Courtesy of the artist, Pilar Corrias, London and Regen Projects, Los Angeles)

We've got a brilliant past ahead of us.

This month a Heritage Plan for Sheffield will be launched. It's the final version of a strategy, apparently a first for the UK, written collaboratively by Joined Up Heritage Sheffield, the public, the Council and businesses. This plan comes not before time and thanks to many individual activists who have pressured for it, often through resisting business or local authority plans.

Heritage is a wide concept. What should we retain and celebrate? Nottingham invites visitors to 'Be part of the legend'. You know what they mean - everyone likes Robin Hood stories - but Sheffield's different. Here historic buildings have been left to rot for decades. The Council is boasting about £1.4 billion developments in the pipeline. We're promised Yorkshire's tallest building, shopping area extensions and a city open for 18 hours a day. God help us. But at least they've got a plan. And they are digging up the castle again.

History and heritage [...] are made in the course of change

A great book, Sheffield Troublemakers: Rebels and Radicals in Sheffield History by David Price, outlines another side of our heritage that we should be celebrating: campaigners fighting greed, violence, bureaucracy and injustice. These range from the Chartists demanding electoral reform in the 19th century to the anti-nuclear movement of the 1980s. Heroes like Edward Carpenter, the LGBT activist ahead of his time. Amazing events and progressive voices that will be woven into the story of Sheffield. But what will be erased? The history of immigration, perhaps? Racism in Sheffield's past? The name Jew Lane seems to have disappeared during the Fitzalan Square reconstruction. Is this heritage being re-written?

History and heritage aren't fixed, they are made in the course of change. Up to the 1970s the streets were peppered with dog shit, pubs and cafés were filled with cigarette smoke, and racist, homophobic and sexist opinions resounded in the media and on our streets. The pressure for reform on all these problems came from ordinary people who rolled up their sleeves to do something, to say 'no more!', to be part of movements for positive change.

Anyone can join in the activist tradition. Not convinced? On Saturday 30 May, Millenium Gallery, 10.30am-4.30pm, there will be an Activist Fair - yes, seriously! - as part of this year's Festival of Debate. It's the equivalent of a careers fair for campaigning.

Be passionate, not passive. Get angry, but get active.

Hosted by Alt-Sheff

festivalofdebate.com

alt-sheff.org

What Kind of Benefit System Do We Really Want?

Wed 4 Mar | 6:30pm | Quaker Meeting House | Free

UBI Lab Sheffield invites Dr Simon Duffy (Centre for Welfare Reform) to share new research on people's views of benefits, Basic Income and Universal Credit. Also exploring views of disabled people and families, and people with additional needs. Talk followed by discussion. All welcome. ubilabsheffield.org

SheFest

5-15 Mar | Various venues

An annual not-for-profit festival of women's rights and gender equality. Empowering activities, workshops, film, theatre, art, comedy and speakers over ten days. Everyone welcome. Events in Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley. Full festival brochure available in print and online. shefest.org.uk

by Now Then Sheffield

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