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A Magazine for Sheffield
Created in North Sheffield in 2011 by a group of folk performers and lovers, Soundpost is all about bringing the folk experience to the masses. Focusing on the community and performance foundations of this wonderful, whimsical genre, and with a catalogue of successful events already under their belts, the Soundpost team have found themselves in a position to stretch their arms a little wider and reach out to a broader community. I had the pleasure of speaking with folk singer Fay Hield, one of the founders of the organisation, to find out what they are up to. What was the original idea behind Soundpost? Well, I started off as a performer and singer. I did a degree in traditional music and my PhD was looking at the folk scene - how brilliant it is at creating communities but how it can be a little bit cliquey and hard to get into. I wanted to do some workshops that were a bit different to the established folk festivals. It was all about getting people involved and letting people who aren’t part of the established folk scene have access. We got a bit of funding from the East Peak Partnership, and to apply for that we had to be an organisation with a bank account. So because me and three people signed something to say we were one, we kind of just carried it on. What kind of events do you run? We do weekends about every two years, and we’ve done some day-long workshops as well. Most of the stuff happens around Dungworth in North Sheffield, where we take over all the community buildings – the chapel, or the pub, or the pool hall. We run a folk club up at the Royal Hotel up in Dungworth monthly. The new staff have got really into the school projects, going into inner-city Sheffield schools and taking folk music and ideas about tradition and heritage to kids who might not get that as much as the Dungworth lot do. We try to keep that going, so it’s not just going in and out again, but building a bit of a culture where the kids can come to summer schools or workshops after school and we can create places where people can just make music for fun. Do your events tend to be for beginners, experts or somewhere in between? We’re quite keen to make sure that it’s not targeted towards one thing. The established folk audience is essentially older white middle class, which is brilliant - we do stuff for those core audiences and want them to keep being engaged - but we are pretty active in doing other things. We’ve got a new project next year going into pre-schools. We work with teens. We’re doing an 18-to-30s weekend which is all about community and people getting together and having a good time. You can’t learn folk music in your bedroom on your own or at a university. You have to do it with people, all together, and we’re trying to create spaces where everybody can do that. Any final thoughts? We just want to make the folk scene accessible, and make sure people who are vaguely interested in it should feel welcome and try to get involved. We work with volunteers a lot, from stewarding to delivering workshops, so people can get involved in that side of things or just turn up. )

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