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A simple thank you has turned into ‘great art for all’ to coin a phrase used by Arts Council England, in Hillsborough, Sheffield.

Karen Sherwood, whose Cupola Contemporary Art gallery was launched 25 years ago, wanted to repay locals for their support with a small-scale event. 

But the response from consultation within the community around the proposal was startling. They felt the area was still affected by the terrible football disaster of 1989 and wanted something big, bigger, no BIGGER, to put Hillsborough on the map in a positive way. 

The result is HillsFest – an arts-focused, free festival on July 9 and 10 in the beautiful grounds of Hillsborough Park. 

The event is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, a ‘hero event’ in Sheffield Culture Consortium’s Year Of Making Sheffield 2016 campaign and is backed by a host of local businesses, educational establishments and artists, besides an army of volunteers. 

This is due in no small part to Karen’s dogged determination as Festival Director. 

She has pleaded and cajoled to help raise the tens of thousands of pounds needed to stage this first-time festival. But, in equal measure, has been supported by locals and fellow artists to help her achieve her ambition of putting on a high quality event – only fitting after recent research by the University of Sheffield showed Hillsborough’s S6 postcode housed the largest number of creatives in the city. 

Karen’s vision was that HillsFest should be unlike any other Sheffield festival and show how creativity is essential to ensure a compassionate, energetic, innovative, entrepreneurial and cohesive community. 

The outcome is a diverse programme featuring specialists in their field, whether it be professional musicians, award-winning artists, leading academics or well-versed locals.

Taking centre stage will be two gigantic domes, each able to house 800 people. The first, Creative Showcase, will house artists exhibiting and selling work across a range of disciplines, experts from Sheffield’s nearby Assay Office – one of only four in the country – and a showcase of talent, supported by Sheffield Hallam Students’ Union from Sheffield Hallam University arts graduates and student work from The Sheffield College. The second, Makers’ Activity, will be an area where visitors can try their hand at all manner of making. This covers a broad range of activities and will include more traditional arts and crafts through to opportunities offered by the Institute of Physics. 

Hillsborough Library, an 18th century Adam-style building, will host an Inspiration Exchange by Sheffield-based contemporary performance company, Third Angel. 

Meanwhile the park’s bowling pavilion will be the venue for an impressive spoken word programme, featuring award-winning poets and musicians. These include Rommi Smith, who has written for and performed extensively on BBC radio and Jenni Molloy, a classically-trained cellist and double bassist. Internationally acclaimed, Sheffield-based Sieben, aka Matt Howden, will also be sharing his innovative music in the intimate setting of the pavilion. 

Music of a different kind can be heard on a live sound stage from choral to rock, Americana and blues. 

And no-one will be able to miss the modular graffiti tower. This was designed by students from the University of Sheffield’s Faculty of Engineering, as part of their coursework, helped by architects from ARUP, artist and sculptor Antony Bennett and street artist Mila K. The spiral will feature work by a number of Sheffield street artists. 

Other highlights include a Chainsaw Carving Symposia, award-winnng, Midlands-based glass artists, The Bandits Of Glass, and Autobiographical Food by interactive art organisation Invisible Flock. 

Who says it’s grim up north?          



Twitter: @hillsfest2016


Notes to Editor

An image to support this article is available from Karen Sherwood on: 0114 285 2665.

For any further information, please contact Tanya Geddes on: 07960 685394. 


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