The University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University have created a new partnership to run Off the Shelf literature festival.

In a ground-breaking new model, the Universities will work together to curate, mentor and manage the festival with both co- creating the themes. Sheffield Hallam will oversee the visual identity and production of marketing material and the University of Sheffield will carry out event planning and organisation. The Arts Council has also committed funding to Off the Shelf for two years.Off The Shelf

The team which has produced the festival for over 20 years will continue to be the core organisers who, with the support of two premier higher education institutions, will continue to strengthen the reputation of the festival as well as the city as a cultural destination. Off the Shelf has developed an excellent reputation within the publishing industry and has forged strong relationships with local writers, groups and diverse organisations, which means it can create a popular and imaginative programme for the festival.

Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: "The funding from the Arts Council, and the joint expertise of the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University will enable this much-loved festival to flourish.

"Off the Shelf is one of Sheffield’s most important major annual events welcoming guests of the highest calibre to the city to speak on a range of diverse and enthralling subjects, and whom inspire the next generation of creative young minds.”

Professor Vanessa Toulmin Director of City & Cultural Engagement, University of Sheffield said; “In the current climate some city initiatives need to change and evolve to embrace new demands. The Universities’ collaboration ensures the future of the festival and is part of our strategic priorities in creating a vibrant cultural economy for staff, students and residents. The partnership is an ideal synergy between learning and the celebration of the written and spoken word.

“The Universities are already the bedrock of the festival in terms of access to academics and hosts and this new, enhanced relationship extends this opportunity.”

Professor Chris Wigginton, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Development and Society, Sheffield Hallam University said: “The two Universities already collaborate on a number of city-wide initiatives – the most recent being the Year of Making. This celebrated our past, present and future as a ‘city of makers’ and promoted a world city with an international reputation for excellence and innovation.

“We are delighted to be collaborating again on Off the Shelf - a unique festival that demonstrates the vibrancy, creativity and experience of our city. The festival includes student and research engagement, specially curated programmes by University academics alongside world class writing and literature by the authors. We are proud to help support and enrich such a wonderful event.”

2017 will be the 26th Off the Shelf festival. Now established as one of the largest literary festivals in the UK, it attracts some of the best known names in literature and media to Sheffield every year. The festival programme includes over 200 events across a wide range of themes and interests giving visitors of all ages the opportunity to meet great writers, historians, artists, scientists, journalists and musicians in a host of varied locations from the Crucible Theatre to a friendly pub. Previous Off the Shelf line ups have included; Hilary Mantel, Benjamin Zephaniah, David Mitchell, Carol Ann Duffy, Michael Morpurgo, Nick Clegg, Nick Hornby, Tracey Borman, Kid Acne, Hugh Fernley Whittingstall, Tony Robinson, John Pilger, Alan Johnson, Carol Morley, David Hare, Michael Rosen, Simon Armitage, Ian McMillan, Jackie Kay, Francesca Martinez, Helen Mort, John Pilger to name but a few…..