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Posts tagged ‘culture’

Farewell to self-employment, hello again to the stellamedia blog…

Yes, you read right. Do not adjust your screens folks. After over 11 rollercoaster years of being a sole trader [journalist > copywriter > blogger > PR > social media consultant. Phew!] I’m thrilled to announce I have been appointed in a full time permanent job, which begins next month.

My new role is Social Media and Content Manager of – already one of the most trusted online medical information and support websites in the UK. Exciting changes and developments are ahead for this brand in 2012 and beyond.

My base remains here in wonderful Sheffield and over the next few weeks I’ll be revamping and removing the ‘business’ aspect to this site – turning it back into its original incarnation as a lifestyle blog, created just for fun & hopefully to inspire, inform and entertain.

I anticipate I’ll be sharing my thoughts/ideas/photos focused on my interests, including food, culture, Sheffield life, plus now and then I’ll talk about branding, social media, the art of storytelling in communications et al.

So this isn’t really a goodbye post…just a THANK YOU to everyone, whether you’re a current or former client, collaborator, like-minded business, fellow media or creative type, for supporting me and my business in so many ways.

In future, I’ll still be tweeting under @stellamedia. Plus, I’ll continue to provide social media content for the Sheffield Culture, under my freelance role for Sheffield City Council.

So don’t forget to keep me posted on any cultural/creative/sport etc info that’s Sheffield-related to me by emailing:, tweeting news to @sheffculture [or sharing with the Twitter community via #sheffculture] or posting relevant info on the ‘Sheffield City of Culture’ Facebook page.

Farewell for now dear readers…and see you on the other side! ;0


Social media and events taking centre stage for new Culture Forum

Silversmith Owen Waterhouse with candlestick, at Culture Strategy Launch Event. Photo supplied by Sheffield City Council

Sheffield City Council’s recently-launched culture strategy is to be supported by three special cultural events and a dedicated social media online presence, over the next 12 months.

Funded by the Council, these exclusive events and digital channels are designed to enable individuals and organisations within the grassroots cultural community of Sheffield to stay connected with each other, under the banner of a Culture Forum for the city.

Two Sheffield-based businesses have been appointed on a freelance basis by the Council to support the Culture Forum. Ben Duong, founder of The North marketing agency, is co-ordinating the three events, under the banner of The North Culture Club. While Stella Eleftheriades, director of copywriting and social media specialists, stellamedia, is taking charge of the social media and blogging accounts.

Amy Carter, Head of Arts, Museums and Cultural Promotion at Sheffield City Council says: ‘The three events will be themed around the main objectives of the cultural strategy with the first being ‘Economic Impact’ on 12th May, and will be held in conjunction with the Site Gallery. We will be showcasing a diverse range of Sheffield based creative individuals/businesses that have done some amazing work outside of the city, not just in the UK, but also internationally. For example, Human Studios currently have an exhibition of their work in a gallery in Tokyo; Nick Deakin created an illustration character for a Coca-Cola advertisement; and Forced Entertainment, a theatre performance group, will be going on a European tour from April.’

The other two events are set to take place on 8th September 2011 and 19th January 2012 and will be themed around ‘Excellence’ and ‘Participation’. During the events, follow live tweets on (hashtag) #sheffieldculture.

To join the Culture Forum on Facebook search for ‘Sheffield City of Culture’, to follow on Twitter use @sheffculture and blog posts and further information will be featured on:

Listings and notifications of events, workshops and exhibitions can be sent to

Sheffield City Council’s culture strategy is a direct follow-on from Sheffield’s 2010 UK City of Culture bid and is a call to action for the people of the city to get involved and participate in cultural activity.

Rotherham: The Little Town That Can

by T. Rafiq

Rotherham is a town that has been through some difficult times lately. However, we are also a little town that never gives up. We might not have the grandeur of big cities like York, but our ambitions are grand.

We’re scrappy and we’re tough and we punch well above our weight. We have a heart as big as the Pennines and we will always surprise you.

Rotherham has been short listed for a People’s Millions Big Lottery Fund grant of £50,000. We are competing against a York based project in a contest of David vs. Goliath magnitude, which we definitely have the stones to win.

If we win – when we win – this money will go towards establishing a permanent arts centre and community resource in the centre of town on the spacious top floor complex of the Westgate Chambers building. It is the magnificent brainchild of Karen Sherwood and Rotherham Open Arts Renaissance, also known as R.O.A.R.

Westgate Chambers will be a place where Rotherham artists from every discipline will be able to gather to create and trade and exhibit: painting, sculpting, writing, performing, music, cinema, new media and any other craft you care to name will find a home here.

It will also be a place where every member of the community will be welcomed to appreciate and participate in the wonderful and liberating world of art. You never know who you might discover here: the new Hockney, the new Spielberg, maybe even the new you. For you might very well unearth your own hidden talent, something that no one has ever seen before – something that will blow people’s minds all the way to the Wonderland of Wow!

R.O.A.R. has already managed to uncover some dazzling treasures of artistic wonder concealed here in Rotherham:

Jill: the finger painting dynamo whose canvass is the very bones of the North, slate and granite she has salvaged from skips and derelict factories, things that others thought were of no more use or worth, but she takes these things and turns them into visions of unique beauty.

Leslie: a gentleman who as overcome profound deafness and the loss of his beloved wife to cancer, a man who creates magnificent miniatures in oils and fibreboard as breathtaking as any majestic Rembrandt.

Gemma: the walking, talking living doll who lives in a button tin and makes magic with a needle and thread, and buttons and rags all the colours of the rainbow.

And then there’s me. Who am I? I am Rotherham, and my best is yet to come!

But for us to triumph, we need your help. We need your votes. The official voting for the People’s Millions is on Monday 22nd November 2010. Phone lines will be open between 9am and midnight – the phone number to cast your vote will be publicised on the day of voting in the Daily Mirror newspaper, on the People’s Millions web site and on the R.O.A.R web site.

Before then, you can find out more about our project and register your support for R.O.A.R. and Rotherham at our official People’s Millions page by clicking the following link:

I must stress that registering your support before the official voting date does not constitute a firm commitment on your part; it simply gives us a rough idea of how much support we might be able to expect.

Needless to say, you would earn eternal gratitude if you then followed through with this support with a solid vote for R.O.A.R. on 22nd of November.

Pass this on to your friends and family and anyone you happen to bump into. A brighter future for Rotherham is in all our hands.

Thank you for your time.

Theatre review: Pool (no water) by Sheffield University Theatre Company (SuTCo)

Photo: SuTCo

Venue: The Drama Studio, University of Sheffield (date of show 22 October 2010, performance ran from 20 to 23 October 2010)

The thin line which straddles love and hate doesn’t just get crossed in Pool (no water) – by leading British theatre company Frantic Assembly – it gets positively trodden and stamped on, in this startling and thoughtful exploration of the notion of friendship and love.

Originally devised with acclaimed writer Mark Ravenhill, (The Cut, Shopping and Fucking) this vibrant physical theatre piece centres around the tangled, complicated emotional dynamic between four obscure artists and their rich, famous friend, Ellie.

After many years apart, the group visit Ellie, a talented and feted artist, at her luxurious home – complete with outdoor pool – and a night of celebration leads to their hostess suffering a terrible freak accident. It’s only then, the dark underbelly of the true, visceral feelings of the visting quartet for their estranged ‘friend’ come to vivid light, unravelling in disturbing and twisted ways.

Despite the sometimes confused and disjointed use of symbolism, the physicality of the performers is well-paced and musical interludes add an additional, haunting layer to the show. Although the script merely skims the surface of the world the characters exist in at times, Pool (no water) is overall a brave and bold production, which is well worth a dip for fans of challenging, entertaining theatre.

Sheffield’s big conversation

Image: An illustrated example of one of the ideas received.
Source: Sheffield City of Culture team

Once a journalist, always a journalist. Talking to ‘ordinary people’, finding out what the real story is, watching an organic, exciting event come to life – I’ll never get tired of being in the thick of these sweet slices of life.

And last week, I was thrilled to witness this spirit was alive and well in Sheffield, at ‘What’s Your Big Idea? event, held by the Sheffield City of Culture 2013 team.

Sheffield, keep on speaking up!

Here’s more about the event, from the SCC team:

The team behind Sheffield’s UK City of Culture bid undertook the largest arts and culture consultation that the city has ever seen last week. The ‘Sheffield City of Culture: What’s Your Big Idea’ event, which took place on Friday 16th April at The Circle from 8.30am – 8.30pm, saw hundreds of people of all ages and walks of life turn up to share their ideas for arts and culture in Sheffield – well exceeding the target of 1000 big ideas!

Amy Carter, Head of Arts at Sheffield City Council, was thrilled by the enthusiasm and ingenuity of the Sheffield public: “People seemed to come in their droves, full of great thoughts and ideas for the city. Some people were waiting outside for the doors to open at 8.30am! Many simply wrote their ideas down, however others drew pictures, created collages and even sang their ideas to us.

“Some people were engaged in long conversations and constructive debates with members of the bid team, and guest facilitators from the cultural sector, including leading artists, festival directors, choreographers and musicians, were on hand to discuss the bid and help capture and explore people’s ideas.”

Visitors were encouraged to think broadly, use their imaginations and think beyond restriction to come up with exciting programme ideas for 2013. An impressive 41 blank canvasses were filled, 11 huge paper table cloths were covered in ideas and the suggestion box was over flowing.

The ideas received encompassed:

supporting and showcasing Sheffield’s new talent
taking the city’s existing great events to a new level
capitalising on the power of dance as a way of bringing people together
a range of ideas about how art can improve people’s health
using the cities topography as a stage to promote community arts and music
reflecting the city’s reputation for independent thinking in the 2013 programme

The very best of the ideas will be included in the final bid to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport which will be submitted on 21st May 2010.

Amy concludes: “It was fantastic to see such enthusiasm for the bid and a real desire from the Sheffield public and businesses to make the bid a success. We look forward to carrying the ideas forward, developing them and really creating something amazing in 2013!

“If you have an idea that you would like to share with us, then you can still do so by visiting”

Two portions of culture with chips & mushy peas please!

Fountain detail @ Peace Gardens, Sheffield, UK

Some influences in our lives seem like the holy panacea of Omega 3-rich fish. Most of us have had experience of listening to the ubiquitous, humdrum mantras telling us X, Y or Z is ‘good for us so incorporate more into your life…’


But let’s face it, we’re still a nation where Mr or Mrs Average feel much more comfortable when they’re consuming their seafood in one state and one state only – once it’s been battered, deep-fried and served up with a mammoth portion of chips (and don’t you dare forget the mushy peas if you’re ‘oop north’).

Often the intention’s there to go for the saintful salmon menu option. Maybe that’s when the ‘good for you’ mantra replays through their head like one of those invasive radio commercials that never seem to be off the airwaves. The next thought then comes. ‘Oh but I know what I like!’ So they order the cod with all the trimmings instead, same as ever.

Just as this tentative attitude to our scaly friends runs through society, the idea of culture can be a slippery concept to catch for many a woman or man in the street, who don’t actively participate – whether it’s work or play – in this, what they might call ‘arty-farty’ arena.

As someone who’s naturally drawn to many creative activities, including music, art, books, photography, film and dance, I don’t suffer from this mental mindblock. To me the word ‘culture’ sums up any response to an activity which serves to elevate me out of my every day thoughts and stirs up new ideas and emotions.

That’s why I’ve been avidly following and supporting the bid Sheffield – the city that’s become my much-loved home since moving here from London three years ago – is making to become the UK’s first City of Culture 2013. Twitter:#shefcityculture Facebook:

As part of this campaign, last Sunday an open-to-all Culture Debate was held in the lofty surroundings of City Hall in the centre of town. I was an audience member in this debate, where seven speakers, who in my view represented a pretty broad brush-stroke of Sheffield’s cultural heritage, discussed ‘the big questions’ surrounding culture(starting with, not surprisingly: ‘What is culture?’)

And so the debate rumbled on…..while the audience slowly warmed to the idea of piping up with welcome questions or comments (the general consensus aired to explain this initial reticence, was Sheffielders had a tendency to be shy about their talents) I was struck by the number of empty seats at this free and accessible event.

Perhaps the fresh bout of snow had put the mildly-curious off attending. I also found myself wondering if Mr and Mrs Average of Sheffield were aware the debate was happening at all, as I hadn’t seen much evidence of prior high-profile promotion of this event throughout the city.

For those that don’t know much about the city of Steel, beyond the stereotypes of The Full Monty and those famous but now-departed cooling towers, here’s a few cultural facts about this glorious place which may surprise you:

• 7.2% of the population is employed in the creative industries – that’s twice the national average
• The city’s Showroom is the UK’s second-largest independent cinema
• Sheffield boasts the largest number of active art spaces (studios/workshops) outside of London.

I could go…..I might even shout about it, just to make up for Mr and Mrs Average who might be too shy to speak up! At least I’m not the only voice who’s hollering away. Here’s an interesting article by one of the Culture Debate panellists, BBC Radio Sheffield presenter Paulette Edwards, about the bid and culture in general(and all that arty-farty, fishy business!):

Just days after the debate, I had something else to make some noise about when the Department for Culture, Media & Sport announced Sheffield made the shortlist for the UK City of Culture 2013 title, along with just three other contenders – Birmingham, Derry and Norwich.

Looks like I’ve got loads more yelling to come but I have a voicebox and I ain’t afraid to use it. Go, go, go Sheff!

Change begins from the ground up

ROAR imageThe old saying that no-one ever wanted to become a journalist for the money, still holds true today. Often we wouldn’t win any popularity contests in the eyes of the general public either. But I’ve always believed being a hack can be an immense force for good. We reach into people’s lives and reflect what ‘real’ people want, feel and think. Journalism is all about working from the ground up – finding the story behind a press release, talking to people on the streets, giving them a powerful voice.

With this spirit in mind, I recently had the pleasure of meeting Karen Sherwood, chief executive of ROAR(Rotherham Open Arts Renaissance). The aims of ROAR are: to provide support for artists living and/or working in Rotherham, to provide a ‘one stop shop’ for schools statutory bodies, community groups and businesses wanting to access and employ artists, as well as to establish a sustainable independent working arts centre in Rotherham.

As we toured around the city centre, there were clear signs of deprivation – but we also met others who share Karen’s drive and passion to provide the people of Rotherham with a positive future, through the power of creativity. Now that’s really something to ROAR about.