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Sheffield Festivals: Getting it together.

Times are hard. Money's tight. People are hurting. What can you do? Go to a festival, of course. I know that's no long term solution – only collective political action will sort out this mess – but in the meantime festivals in Sheffield offer a great opportunity to get out there, meet people, let your hair down and generally mix with the human race. Sheffield is blessed with a host of festivals, ranging from free neighbourhood celebrations to major events attracting global audiences. Some festivals are definitely feeling the pinch. Many people were disappointed when Peace In The Park was cancelled last year and the Sharrow Festival team are likewise struggling with raising the necessary funds to put on 2014's event. But we like a challenge in this city and one answer to the shortage of the readies is to put on a fundraiser. And so a whole raft of events are going off in Sheffield focussed on putting some cash into the festival kitties. Comedy shows, masked balls, club nights, African music and food events, art auctions, street performances, gigs in local pubs; all have happened or are in the pipeline. The results speak for themselves – more great events happening, life in the city gets better, pubs and venues get more income and festival volunteers learn new skills, have fun and make new friends. And we get together. There's virtue in collaborating. Festivals working together mean greater things can be achieved. A case in point the April 11th Festivals Ball at the City Hall Ballroom. Sharrow Festival and Peace In The Park are putting on a huge fundraiser headlined by Bison, one of the city's favourite party bands, with support from Jungle Lion, also high up on the spectrum of good times, and the inimitable DJ Bollox playing tunes and with more names to be confirmed. Taking on a gig like this is beyond either festival, but combining energies and resources makes it all possible. More evidence of collaboration comes in the form of the recently established Sheffield Festivals Network, launched on 3rd December. The Network is the result of collaboration between Tramlines, Fright Night, Sensoria, Festival of the Mind, Sharrow Festival, Peace In The Park, The Folk Forest, Regather, Art In The Park and Sharrow Lantern Carnival, with support from Sheffield City Council and the University of Sheffield. The Network has been set up specifically to share information and opportunities, support existing and new festival organisers, evaluate the impact of festivals and act as a representative voice for Sheffield festivals. It has monthly meetings, quarterly forums and an annual party. People can get involved at different levels – staying in touch through regular emails, having a voice by communicating with other members, attending the forums and joining in the festivals evaluation process, or getting involved by putting time and resources into the network, working with others to develop the network and taking part in the monthly meetings. Everyone gets invited to the annual party. With the network up and running we are finding new ways of working together and helping festival organisers. Key benefits are likely to include resources sharing, bulk buying of festival insurance and training opportunities in crucial areas like health and safety, recycling and stewarding. One final note: if you are thinking of putting on a festival in a Sheffield park, June Burke, a very helpful person with the title of Community Events Co-ordinator at the Council, is there to help and advise – june.burke@sheffield.gov.uk. Sheffield Festivals Network Peace In The Park Sharrow Festival Sensoria )

Next article in issue 70

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