Council coughs up to keep club music festival in Sheffield
Plus, a new Threads documentary is in the works
Good afternoon readers — and welcome to our Monday briefing.
Well, we did it! On Friday, The Tribune reached the goal which has been our target for over a year — 2,000 paying members. The importance of this moment shouldn’t be underestimated. When we started out, the conventional wisdom was that people would never pay for local news. Three years later, many of the same publishers who were doubtful about our model are belatedly trying to follow our lead. A company set up during the pandemic with a handful of staff and no major investment has changed the face of the local news industry forever. We have all of you to thank for that.
In this week’s Monday briefing: after abruptly cancelling last year’s event, Sheffield’s electronic music festival No Bounds has attracted council funding to help keep it local. As well as that, we have a beautiful apartment with panoramic views over Sheffield, an evening of “contemplative, cinematic and spiritual” jazz at The Lescar, and a new Threads documentary is in the works.
More praise for the Trib: The founder of our company Joshi Herrmann and our senior editor Sophie Atkinson recently appeared on the podcast Media Confidential. On the pod, former editors Alan Rusbridger of the Guardian and Lionel Barber of the FT praise The Tribune and our sister titles in Manchester, Liverpool, and now Birmingham, for our commitment to high-quality, thoughtful, long-form local journalism. If you’re interested in the media, it’s worth a listen.
Work with us: In more company related news, we are also hiring for the role of deputy editor working across all our four titles. The salary will be dependent on experience but should be in the £40,000-£45,000 range. Ideally you will live in one of our four cities but this isn’t essential. To find out more and apply, click here.
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Catch up and coming up
In our weekend read, Holly Williams examined the astonishing success of Park Hill musical Standing at the Sky’s Edge as it opened on the West End. You can still read that piece here.
Last week we sent out two great newsletters to our 2,015 paying members. In the first, Victoria spoke to people about how Sheffield steel could make an unlikely comeback — but only with a bit of faith from the national government. And in the second, we asked whether Sheffield City Council can expect to get their money’s worth after awarding a marketing agency a £140,000 contract to rebrand the city. An extract from that second piece is below.
Almost immediately, the announcement raised some hackles, largely due to the fact that Manasian&Co is based in London. Sheffield Council, some complained, had passed over a number of marketing agencies staffed by actual Sheffield people in favour of handing a huge wad of cash to a group of distant southerners. Cllr Smith protested that the procurement process was “transparent” and that Manasian&Co’s pitch simply scored higher than those from eight other bidders, including some based locally, but this defence fell on deaf ears. “It’s very disappointing to see this work awarded to a London agency,” wrote marketing strategist Holly Steer on LinkedIn, “IMO, it shows a lack of confidence in Sheffield and the businesses that operate in the region.”
This week we’ll send out two more, including one about the special guest who was conspicuously absent from a “moorland burning summit” last week, and another update on Alison Teal’s ongoing battle with the Green Party over her “gender critical” views. To help fund a new way of doing journalism based on paying members rather than clickbait and stories about celebrities, please subscribe using the button below. It costs just £1.34 a week or 23p a day if you pay for 12 months up front (£70).
The big picture: The Year of the Dragon 🐲
As you might have guessed from the fireworks, Saturday night was Lunar New Year — and the start of the Year of the Dragon. Sheffield held its largest event ever this year, with a five-day festival beginning on Friday. As well as a weekend of food and cultural activities in the Peace Gardens (pictured above), there was also a dragon display at Sheffield Children’s Hospital and a showcase event at the University of Sheffield’s Octagon Centre.
This week’s weather 🌥
Our weather forecast comes from dedicated Sheffield weather service Steel City Skies, who say low pressure remains in control with a changeable and increasingly mild week of weather ahead.
Monday ⛅ Chance of a shower, but on the whole a lot of dry if cool weather with spells of sunshine. Light to moderate WSW winds with highs of 8°C.
Tuesday ☁️ Low pressure winds up to the west with thickening cloud. Largely dry, but a rain risk by late afternoon as a warm front moves north. Highs of 9°C.
Wednesday 🌦 A fresh SW breeze but very mild with the risk of further rain or showers as well as stubborn cloud. Chance of brightness, with highs of 13°C.
Thursday ☂️ Remaining mild and changeable with low pressure in control. Not as windy, but still a risk of rain during the day. Highs of 12°C.
Friday 🌥 Will take a punt on a gradual clearance as our low moves east. Chance of rain more likely early, with fresher and brighter conditions later on. Highs of 10°C.
Outlook: The weekend likely starts dry and bright with fairly mild temperatures. Further unsettled conditions possible by Sunday as low pressure again moves close from the west.
To see the full forecast and keep up to date with any changes to the outlook, follow Steel City Skies on Facebook.
The big story: Council coughs up to keep club music festival in Sheffield
Top line: Last summer, the organisers of one of Sheffield’s biggest annual events — the electronic music festival No Bounds — announced they had made the “very difficult decision” to cancel that year’s event. The news evidently spooked the council, which is now planning to chip in to stop the festival from leaving the city.
No funds for No Bounds: The three-day festival was created in 2017 by Liam O’Shea, a local DJ and the owner of Hope Works, one of the city’s larger clubs. Within just a few years, it had grown large enough to book highly respected international artists like the German DJ Helena Hauff and stage events in Sheffield Cathedral. In December 2022, it was named the UK’s “best boutique festival” by DJ Mag.
In late August last year, just a little over a month before the festival was supposed to take place and with a number of tickets already sold, No Bounds announced that they would have to take a year off. "The last year has been extremely challenging for many of us, with barriers to funding and a cost of living crisis adding to ever increasing production costs,” read a statement on their website. Ticket holders were offered refunds or told they could use their tickets for the 2024 event.
It isn’t the first time the festival has run into financial trouble. In 2020, a campaign to “Save Hope Works” warned supporters that that year’s festival — hosted as a series of free-to-access, online events due to lockdown — might be the last, unless they chipped in to save the club that acts as its main venue. “We’ve created an incredible collision of underground music and culture,” the fundraiser read, “but we need your help if this isn’t to be our last event.” Just under 750 supporters raised more than £32,000 to keep it alive.
Time for public support: Thankfully for No Bounds, only a few weeks after the announcement that last year’s festival was cancelled, the council began discussing plans to help keep it alive — and, more importantly, in Sheffield.
“Sheffield City Council have identified this as an emerging festival of significant growth potential,” councillors heard at a meeting in mid-September. But, they were warned, “the festival is not committed to remain in Sheffield”. To entice it to stay, the council would need to “help to create the conditions for its long-term commercial viability here,” by supporting a “growth strategy to make the 2024 event a longer and bigger festival”.
The money for this exciting new strategy came from a £60,000 pot of funding, which the council had set aside to support three of the city’s existing events.
The other two events which the council decided to support financially for the first time were the literary festival Off the Shelf and the Children’s Media Conference.
Off the Shelf, councillors heard, were “unable to realise their potential” to attract visitors because they couldn’t afford to promote the event. “We will support them to grow their marketing activity and help them achieve regional and national media coverage.”
The Children’s Media Conference — the largest meeting of professionals involved in children’s media in the world, according to the report — would receive help to “bring back and grow the international element of the conference” and reinstate “Playground,” a series of exhibitions that previously ran alongside the conference.
Why? As we’ve reported previously, Sheffield Council is keen to see the city become a tourist destination — the Venice of the north, if you will. (We have the rivers for it.) Since not everyone is outdoorsy enough to appreciate the Peak District, the city will also need to offer some other attractions, hence the huge emphasis on conferences and cultural events
In 2022, there were an estimated 11,500 conferences in Sheffield, attended by 590,000 people, who spent £74.5 million at the conference venues and in the city generally.
In that same year, Sheffield helped host the Women’s Euros, which brought in an estimated £8.3 million for the local economy through just three events. “On the weekend of Sheffield’s opening fixture between Netherlands and Sweden,” a council report notes, “city centre footfall increased by more than 10,000 (22%) and all of the city’s hotel rooms were fully booked.”
Bottom line: The general view among those we’ve spoken to in the city’s cultural sector is that the council should be doing more to support them, so this funding, though small, will come as welcome news. While some might grumble at seeing public money used to prop up a for-profit festival, our opinion is that No Bounds really is too good for Sheffield to let it wither.
The Weekly Whitworth ✍️
This week’s cartoon from James Whitworth was inspired by last week’s story on the London-based marketing agency that has been chosen over local firms to rebrand the city of Sheffield.
Our media picks 🔗
Sheffield, Sheffield, Sheffield 🎤 If anyone hasn’t heard this yet, you are in for a treat. On Lauren Laverne’s BBC Radio 6 Music breakfast show last week, Salford-born poet John Cooper Clarke read out a new poem written especially for Sheffield. The legendary “punk poet” references the city’s world-famous cutlery industry, its enviable musical heritage, and the “airborne avenues” of Park Hill flats. “Brings a tear to the eye, this does,” wrote Henderson’s Relish on Twitter.
The Old Bramall Lane Bridge troll eats anything After a short break, the brilliant Sheffielder blog is back publishing regularly again. His recent blogs have been exploring the south of the city centre, including the latest about the now hidden Old Bramall Lane Bridge and the troll that reportedly lives underneath it. He’s also recently written about St Mary’s Church and Ladies’ Walk, a rural idyll which once travelled parallel to what is now The Moor. Fascinating stuff.
‘You can get home for the 10 o’clock news’ A great piece in The Observer about Day Fever, the daytime clubbing events born in Sheffield which are taking the country by storm. Set up by a group including Reverend and the Makers’ Jon McClure, Line of Duty star Vicky McClure and her filmmaker husband Jonny Owen, they are billed as “the daytime disco that doesn't ruin your Sunday” and have played to sell out crowds everywhere, including just last weekend in London.
Home of the week 🏡
This spectacular eighth-floor apartment in the new Hallam Tower development in Broomhill has a spacious balcony which offers stunning views across the city. It is on the market for £650,000.
Tribune Tips: If you want to tell us about a story or give us some information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always happy to speak to people off the record in the first poll instance, and we will treat your information with confidence and sensitivity.
Things to do 📆
Music 🎺 On Wednesday, Jazz at The Lescar hosts a evening of “contemplative, cinematic and spiritual music” from a six-piece led by trombonist Pierre Flasse. Flasse draws on the music of Dhafer Youssef, Philip Glass and Daniel Herskedal, while support on the night will be provided by Will Shaw (drums/electronics) and Jez Matthews (piano/electronics) performing improvisation and a selection of tunes by Thelonious Monk. Doors open at 8pm and tickets are priced £7-£10.
Theatre 🎭 Midland Players have been a staple of the Sheffield amateur dramatic scene for over 40 years. Join them as they present Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards! at the Sheffield Drama Studio. Pratchett's fantastical Discworld city of Ankh-Morpork is under siege from a 60-foot dragon with only the underpaid, undervalued Night Watch to protect it. The show runs from Wednesday to Saturday and doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. Tickets are £10-£13.
Art 🖼️ At the Millennium Gallery from Thursday, a new immersive exhibition sees artist duo Matterlurgy explore how people’s lives are intertwined with their local water infrastructure. Part of the City of Rivers exhibition, Ways of Water is a multi-channel film, sound and photography installation which focuses on the architectural, technological and sonic aspects of wells and reservoirs. A linked exhibition, Skylarking by artist Ashley Holmes, is also on at Soft Ground.
Threads: 40 years on 🚀
It’s now almost 40 years since “The Night When Nobody Slept” — when Sheffield was blown up on TV. The film Threads told the story of what would happen if a nuclear bomb was dropped on the UK in all its horrific detail. The film was shot entirely in Sheffield and the Peak District and starred hundreds of locals as extras.
Now, the team behind a new documentary to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the film are looking to contact people who took part in the production or who remember watching the film when it was originally broadcast. If you’d like to get involved, please email email@example.com and share your memories. The filmmakers would love to hear from you!