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Sheffield as a Creative Centre

Filed under: Thoughts — Andy @ 12:59 pm

August 30, 2009

Sheffield has come a long way, even in the 16 years we’ve been around.

After a few setbacks (The Full Monty, the National Centre for Popular Music, the Airport), the city now has a reputation for creative and technical innovation worldwide. We have a thriving Cultural Industries Quarter, home to designers, media, musicians, filmmakers, digital innovators and artists all centred around the Workstation and Showroom Cinema. Across the city, the Digital and New Media sector is growing faster in Sheffield than any other country in the UK according to InvestInSheffield.

Creative and technology businesses can work anywhere – we’re all linked up via the web, these days. That means that, rather than being located here for a specific reason, people working here have chosen to be here. Investors from outside the region appreciate the strange geography of the place that makes us as near to the wilds of the Peaks and Derbyshire as we are to Leeds, Manchester, Doncaster and Nottingham.

A good proportion of design, creative and media companies are based in Sheffield’s Cultural Industries Quarter. We are not! The advantages of having non-city-centre premises are obvious in terms of overheads, which we can pass on to our clients. And we can always get into town in five minutes if we need to.

Sheffield is a tough place to do business – we know the value of money and are not easily convinced by marketing and spin. Instead of saying “Hello”, Sheffielders will often greet you with the phrase “What d’yu know?”. Guaranteed to put anyone on the back foot – but also an unexpected invitation dispose of smalltalk and to share your thoughts.

Several of our clients have described themselves as having “short arms but long pockets”. Dry humour, a no-nonsense attitude, and honesty prevail in Sheffield. This has shaped the way Sheffield is now as a business and creative force and influences the way we do business with all our clients.


  1. Interesting that you consider The Full Monty a setback for Sheffield’s international reputation. Whether you liked the film or not, it did a lot to raise the city’s profile abroad. I’ve met quite a few Europeans and Americans who mentioned that film when I told them I was from Sheffield – and they all said they enjoyed it.

    Comment by Neil the Sheffield copywriter — November 3, 2009 @ 12:42 pm

  2. Neil…

    Thanks for taking the time to read the blog.

    I did actually like the film and agree it boosted Sheffield’s profile short term but, ultimately, I think it made us look like a bunch of losers. Amusing and endearing losers, admittedly. Also the redundant steelworker theme was a bit stereotypical and outdated at a time when Sheffield was looking towards the future. I felt we were being dragged back a few years.

    My main problem was that I was freelancing at an ad agency at the time of its release, producing local press adverts, mainly for car dealerships. Not a day went by for about 2 years without a “Full Monty Part Exchange”, “Full Monty Full Service” (or worse) offer being dragged out and pasted in. And it wasn’t just the auto trade – it was everywhere: “Full Monty Eat All You Can”, “Full Monty Hair and Nails Offer”…I just got fed up of the whole thing. It all began to look a bit desperate, as if Sheffield only had one thing to say when we knew that wasn’t true.

    OK, admittedly it’s a very personal and biassed opinion…but hey – it’s my blog!

    Comment by Andy — November 3, 2009 @ 2:03 pm

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