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UK City of Culture 2013 Sheffield Bid

In July 2010 the city of Sheffield will find out whether it is to be the UK City of Culture in 2013. Three other cities in the United Kingdom have been nominated alongside the city of Sheffield, including Derry, Birmingham and Norwich.

The City of Culture team in Sheffield has promoted 10 key areas of culture. This week BBC Sheffield will be looking at four of the areas which Sheffield is proud of, including music, new talent, stories and its heritage and business.

BBC Sheffield has asked Toby Hyam from Creative Space Management which manages Sheffield's Digital Business Centre and The Electric Works to tackle the issues over Sheffield's manufacturing heritage and the new digital era.

Toby Hyman, Managing Director of Creative Space Management

UK City of Culture bid: Sheffield
By Toby Hyam, Creative Space Management

Sheffield is a special place for business and for enterprise which actually makes things that have a place in the world.

So many businesses do much more than just provide services that create content, or build hugely complex products such as Sheffield Forgemasters who can make some of the largest man-made single objects in the world. Other businesses combine advanced steel and blade technologies to provide cutting instruments to leading hospitals and surgeons around the world (Swann-Morton) or advanced medical devices developed under the wind of the University of Sheffield, part of a UK leading cluster of advanced medical product designers that are established in Yorkshire and particularly focused in Sheffield. And yet, it is also evolving as a diverse and eclectic location for small scale creatives, performers, musicians and writers.

The strange legacy of many thousands of craftsmen operating in micro-clusters up and down the river valleys of the Sheaf, the Don and the Porter Brook has influenced a different but related creative entrepreneurial culture in the 21st century.

And what is it about places that carry these similarities through different époques? The legacy of artists and craftsmen in the city is a rich seam of influence all too easy to forget in our one-minute of celebrity world. Take people less familiar to us than Ruskin or Godfrey Sykes, recently celebrated at Sheffield Hallam University or like Charles Green who founded Sheffield's Hunter Archeological society, who was both a craftsman, a very capable metal-worker and sculptor and a designer producing designs for cast iron fireplaces and decorative items sold all over the world.

The legacy of Sheffield's innovation in silver plate and cutlery manufacture has realised a rich tradition of designer makers and silversmiths that is carried forward in the work of Sarah Stevenson, Kate Felton, Christopher Perry, Brett Payne and many others.

In more recent developments, such as at Electric Works, new clusters of designers and content makers are fashioning products in a digital world, often using traditional artistic skills such as Redstar's award winning digital films and animations. Or take WANdisco a leading and fast growing software developer which creates new platforms and products and is one of the leading sponsors of Subversion - an emerging global, open source platform; to companies like Cape UK successfully delivering creativity and culture as synchronous commercial and culturally valuable initiatives for young people.

And with pioneering companies such as Warp Films, developing innovative and risk taking content - such as Chris Morris's new feature film, Four Lions, Sheffield continues to produce cutting edge products that no longer require canals and railways but can be distributed via super-fast broadband networks into millions of homes and pioneered by Digital Region, a ground breaking company based at Electric Works.

And in the face of Stones's Brewery closing in 1999, the legacy is not another huge international company stepping in to fill the gap, but a proliferation of micro-breweries and award winning real ale pubs and inns that now attract visitors from across the UK including this year's national CAMRA winner.

Somehow, it is the combination of the new emerging out of the spectacular industrial heritage around Kelham Island and the Don and the Sheaf valleys which reflects a creative entrepreneurial culture that seems to run through the water, powering new industries, creativity and a resilience and which is exactly what culture should be in the UK: remorselessly enterprising and innovative yet underpinned by a deep seam of Yorkshire grit.


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