Community arts get connected across Sheffield

Music workshopA new initiative set up to give a platform to the community arts scene in Sheffield is connecting people across the city to get involved in music, art, dance, poetry and much more.

Based around an interactive website, Sheffield Participatory Arts Network (SPAN) is an open network for the city’s community music groups, events, workshops and arts projects and runs regular events. The network also provides promotional, logistical and human support for aspiring workshop leaders, pre-existing groups and relevant events in Sheffield.

The network’s website is at the heart of this, providing users with easy access to information about all that happens in Sheffield, regular updates of future events, and the possibility to share experiences of workshops, groups and venues with others.

The site is a new venture in collaboration with the University of Sheffield’s Humanities Research Institute (HRI), which funded and developed the website to accommodate the complex functions required and make them both visually appealing and easy to use.

“In this way,” explained co-founder Sam Parkin, “SPAN will provide a new way to explore and connect with Sheffield’s myriad community arts groups and events online.”

SPAN is an online space for the community arts scene in Sheffield, which acts as both a social network and a cultural database for all of its users. It also has a range of specific uses for artists, groups, and casual members.

For individual users, SPAN is a place to find out about regular lessons and workshops in anything from gospel singing to salsa dancing, from capoeira to soukous guitar playing. Users can also find out about one-off gigs and weekend events happening in the city and the website is a place to explore the arts groups and teachers that operate in Sheffield, as well as a resource to find out about what goes on under the city's surface.

For artists and groups, the website provides a unique online platform allowing them to create and sell tickets to events, connect with their audiences in discussion forums and promote events through an interactive calendar.

Sam said: “The website aims to provide a way into the plethora of music, dance, and arts groups that operate in Sheffield for the uninitiated, and an online database of all that goes on that is easy to access and use. The more that this database and online community is contributed to, the stronger and more wider-reaching it will become. We’re excited that lots of people are getting involved in this exciting new initiative to help further the community arts in Sheffield.”

“SPAN is putting a support framework around a scene that has been growing and innovating for years in Sheffield, one that reflects its ‘City of Sanctuary’ identity, diverse population and strong community activism.” explained Sam.

“Values of cultural exchange, cultural empowerment and social integration through the arts are at the heart of SPAN. Our workshop days will provide a chance for anyone to try their hand, leg, foot or voice at any number of instruments, while gigs, music and dance lessons, and all manner of other related events are to come in the New Year. These will feature some of the city’s finest heard and unheard artists.”

Affiliated groups that are benefitting from the project include:

- Angelina Abel and her 'Mulembas D'Africa' dance classes: Mulembas D'Africa
- Clare Turner Music - teaching mbira and balafon: Clare Turner Music
- The Creative Edge project co-ordinated by Learn For Life Enterprise: Creative Edge
- Capoeira CDO (Cordão de Ouro): Sheffield Capoeira
- Members of the Sheffield-based Congolese band Soukous Revelation

Additional information

To find out more visit:
SPAN Facebook

The University of Sheffield

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For further information please contact:
Amy Stone
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 1046