In 2010, Sheffield developed a bid to become City of Culture 2013, an accolade eventually won by Derry/Londonderry. In the process, there had been widespread consultation with the cultural sector across the city, and afterwards a desire to build on this. Sheffield City Council also decided that, rather than having a top down ‘Director of Culture’ post, it would be better for the sector to lead on the city’s strategic cultural direction for itself.
The Consortium idea was borrowed from other cities such as Liverpool, and was set up as a focused working group made up of the Chief Executives of some of Sheffield’s larger cultural organisations.
The Consortium is not a representative body, but aims to provide strategic leadership for the sector. Since January 2014, additional members have been invited to join, to better reflect the range of cultural activity in the city.
During the autumn of 2012 and the spring of 2013, the Culture Consortium ran a series of workshops, supported by the University of Sheffield and facilitated by Dr Tom Fleming. The workshops were widely promoted, and around 250 people attended from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. The workshops identified four priority themes for developing culture in Sheffield:
Nurturing new talent
Supporting the sustainability of existing organisations
Sheffield as a City of Festivals
Children and Young People
The Culture Consortium works to promote these priority themes at a strategic level within the city.
We meet monthly as a consortium and hear from inspirational speakers as well as sharing developments within our own organisations and the strategic networks that we are part of locally and nationally.
When opportunities arise to bid for funding to further these priorities, we make a group decision on how to progress the opportunity and a bid making sub-group is brought together, often including partners from outside the Consortium and usually supported with resources from one or more Consortium members. The sub groups report on progress at the monthly meetings.
The Culture Consortium also supports the creation and development of new organisations and networks to take forward initiatives under the four priorities, such as the SNAP network, the Festival Network and the Sheffield Creative Guild.