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Pitsmoor Renaissance: Have you experienced it yet?

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The Pitsmoor renaissance is in full flow. Have you experienced it yet?

The locals are getting organised. Performers, technicians, equipment and venues are being supplied, free of charge usually, to a growing group of event organisers. More and more people are explaining to their disbelieving friends that there are amazing nights out to be had in Pitsmoor.

Pitsmoor? Is it safe? Are drugs involved? Can you park?

Those of us who live in the area, bring up our children here and know how good the local community is, roll our eyes at such credulity, but it does have the advantage of keeping narrow minds in their high-walled, anonymous enclaves.

Our secret? We talk to each other

And our secret? We talk to each other, forming real social networks. People help out, pitch in and attend. The Pitsmoor audiences are warm, generous and helpful. Facebook and Twitter play their part, but the real network is formed by disparate people, living side by side, happy to offer support to their neighbours.

I'll start with my own events, which began with the Cheap Thrills Zero Budget Film Festival. Originally conceived as a joke at the expense of all those rather po-faced film festivals that Sheffield seems to have, it's now a serious business. This year in excess of 1,500 entries came from 86 countries. The festival is about filmmaking for the fun of it. We help anyone to make their own films. We accept films from all over the world and screen them to receptive audiences. And we do it all for free - no charges, no fees and really, really cheap prizes.

The festival is now in its eighth year. Never heard of it? Hardly surprising, because it's not the type of story the media want to tell about Pitsmoor.

We also have a history of taking a feature film and cutting extra scenes in, filmed with locals. So far we have 'improved' Dr Terror's House of Horrors, Bride of Frankenstein, It's A Wonderful Life, and Ghostbusters, which had loads of grown men and women gleefully running around in overalls with vacuum cleaner parts on their backs. We recently launched sing-along movies, starting with Grease, a sort of audience participation/karaoke event with regular stage invasions. We will be screening 16mm prints of classic Hollywood movies over the winter in the local scout hut.

If you really knew what [Pitsmoor] was like, you'd be moving here

That's pretty much the films taken care of, but there are other initiatives. The first falls under the loose heading of 'Let's go to the pub'. We noticed local pubs are closing down, so we have adopted one, the Bay Horse, and are consciously using it more. Men's nights, women's nights, quizzes - all have helped fill the pub. But one event eclipses all the others: Singles Night, where people bring seven-inch vinyl singles and play them to the rest of the room. Doesn't sound like much, does it? Well it's a phenomenon, it's been steadily growing month by month and the pub has never been busier.

Then there is the People's Kitchen Pitsmoor, capitalising on the rich diversity of people and culinary dishes in the area. Regular events based around food are held in the local park, and plans are afoot to transform the outbuildings into kitchens for use in training and catering, and to open up a café in the park.

The house in the park has a community room, which anyone can hire for free to put on an event. We have a license from the TEDTalk organisation and put on TEDxPitsmoor. Add to that the frequent events hosted in the local allotments, Stan Skinny's regular cabaret, all the stuff happening around the edge of Kelham Island - or, as we call it, Lower Pitsmoor - and innumerable art, history, wellbeing and community initiatives, and it's all looking pretty vibrant around here.

Afraid to come to Pitsmoor? If you really knew what it was like, you'd be moving here. If you're open minded, helpful, kind and up for a laugh, you'll fit right in. Pitsmoor's can-do attitude, producing events and spaces to benefit the community with no outside help or interference, is spreading. Don't wait for somebody to give you money or permission - just do it.

Martin Currie

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