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To mark 25 years of Cupola Gallery, Hillsborough's treasured contemporary art gallery, owner Karen Sherwood decided it was time to give something back to the community which has continued to support and sustain her esteemed business. 2016 brings the first HillsFest, an art and music festival running on 9-10 July at Hillsborough Park, set up not only to bring together the creative folk of the city, but, in the words of Karen, "to put Hillsborough on the map for all the right reasons". What can you tell us about the ethos of HillsFest? The overarching aim of the festival is to show how creativity is essential to ensure a compassionate, energetic, innovative, entrepreneurial and cohesive community. The festival aims to showcase creativity across art forms and outside of what might be considered an art form. We want to show how creativity connects us and inspires innovation. HillsFest intends to put Hillsborough on the map for something entirely positive. It is an ambitious, celebratory event. What can people expect at HillsFest 2016? To mark this festival as something extraordinary, HillsFest will be housing activity in huge 24-metre inflatable domes. There are five themed zones, the first being Creative Showcase - work exhibited and for sale across disciplines - then Makers Activity - opportunities to have a go at a range of artistic activities, including pottery, drawing, printmaking, silversmithing, 3D printing, laser cutting and instrument making, amongst others. We also have spoken word and film, sound and movement, and finally taste, where there will be a performance piece, Autobiographical Food by Invisible Flock. There will also be a separate sound stage with 16 acts over the two days, developed in conjunction with the Honey Bee Blues Club, plus a modular graffiti tower the size of a terraced house, a chainsaw carving symposium, hot glass blowing demonstrations by Bandits of Glass, Tim Boswell and Elliot Walker, and large fantastical birds hanging from the trees, developed through working with local schools. And, of course, stalls, beer and food. Are there any other events like this happening around the city or do you think you're opening up a new avenue for Sheffield? I don't think there is anything quite like this in the city, and as the first event, I hope that it develops and maybe becomes something regular on the cultural map for Sheffield. Who has been involved to help make HillsFest a success so far? HillsFest has been blessed by a strong and enthusiastic group of volunteers and some significant sponsors that have made this event possible. The strong backing for the proposal from the local community has helped fuel our own enthusiasm and determination to make this event a success. Do you have any more fundraising to do before the festival? Most definitely. Our ambition is bigger than our budget, so more funds will help deliver yet more extraordinary activity and importantly keep it free for all. Artists and others have been enormously generous and I'd encourage people to visit our online shop to see if anything catches their eye - Sponsorship opportunities are still available too. Do you think there is any more that the Council and the people of the city could be doing to support the creative minds of Sheffield? There is always more the Council and others can do. Not sidelining the arts or seeing it or the artists as a luxury is key. Creativity across disciplines is absolutely essential to make the city vibrant, exciting, innovative and a great place to live. )
by Tasha Franek (she/her)

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