Spotlight on Sheffield – the city steels itself for further creative growthAmanda McDonald
We have been interested to hear lots of creative and economic buzz around the City of Sheffield of late. For example, did you know that according to a new digital report commissioned by The University of Sheffield and Creative Sheffield, there are currently 21,000 people employed in creative and digital jobs in the Sheffield City region? And, that according to creative industry magazine, Design Week, Sheffield is steeling itself for further creative growth?
Up until now, awareness of the sector’s stellar growth spurt and digital aspirations has been low, even in Sheffield itself. But, the secret’s now out, and it’s not all that’s happening in the ‘Steel City’.
From Blade Runner to cutting-edge tech
According to Sheffield City Region’s Growth Hub, its creative and digital sectors have grown faster in the Sheffield City Region than anywhere else in the UK. With turnover in the digital sector increasing by 38% annually, the Sheffield’s industrial landscape is set to change to accommodate the sector’s growth, creating a post-modern environment with a more than a nod to its industrial past.
An example of Sheffield’s transition from steel manufacture to cutting-edge technology is reinforced in the transformation of former steelworks into creative hubs. After a £3.5 million grant was awarded to Sheffield by the Government in 2015, a former Co-Op building is now housing a “maker hub” for start-up digital and design companies, whilst Sheffield-based City Estates is currently working on the first phase of its £10m mixed-use development, Alsop Fields, on Sidney Street in the Cultural Industries Quarter.
Channel hop potential
In addition, last week, Creative Sheffield, the council’s economic development function, submitted its bid to attract innovative TV channel Channel 4, (‘Britain’s Creative Greenhouse’), to bring its headquarters to the Steel City. Although Sheffield’s bid will be in competition with Liverpool, the West Midlands, Bradford, Manchester and Cardiff, the city’s vibrant creative culture and forward-thinking digital community will provide one of many compelling reasons for Channel 4 to consider relocating some or all of its 800-strong workforce to Sheffield.
Inspiring millennials to ‘make’
It’s an interesting juxtaposition that Sheffield is building on its heritage in the manufacture of steel to create a new, future-proof digital industry that instead of making metal products, will inspire millennials to become ‘creative digital makers’. Their media will be digital design, video games, digital art and culture and digital media and content and they will be housed in the industrial buildings that created Sheffield’s international ‘making’ reputation.
As digital and creative makers ourselves, we will take inspiration from Sheffield’s meteoric rise and wait to see more of its futuristic vision unfold.