Joining Sheffield’s Do-It-Yourself Culture

Joining Sheffield’s Do-It-Yourself Culture

24 August 2016

Following a successful first UK appearance in London last November, the 10th edition of Dublin’s Creative Festival OFFSET will be taking place in Sheffield on Friday 21 and Saturday 22 October 2016 at the Crucible Theatre. To celebrate this event, as well as all our fantastic creative start-ups already set-up in Sheffield, we will be hearing from some of them and learning about their journey.

Creative Arts Development Space (CADS) Trust & Space is an arts charity based in Shalesmoor in Sheffield, which takes on disused buildings and repurposes them to enable start-ups, new projects and creatives to use them. Set up in 2009, founder Steve Rimmer took on three studio spaces in Kelham Island to house equipment for his music promotions company, letting the extra space to other artists. Due to the demand for his studio space, he decided to set up CADS so that he could help creative start-ups like himself find space and get started with their business ideas.

We speak to Sam Parkin, Business Manager at CADS Space, who tells us about the future plans for the charity, why he loves working in Sheffield and gives us his advice to future creative start-ups.

I have been working for CADS for two years now and I love it. I have a creative and financial background myself so when a job as Financial Assistant came up at CADS I had to take it. Our organisation has gone from strength to strength, gaining charitable status in 2012 and from then on seeing y-o-y growth as we have built up a bigger network of creative start-ups across the city. We act as a kind of social landlord, who provides cheap and affordable creative space in the city centre and wider city, but who also coordinates the legal side of things, handles business rates and provides early business support.

There are six of us who are full time, including one apprentice (plus our great volunteers) and we manage ten buildings with five based in the city centre, alongside our partners from the Third Sector and the Universities, and with some support from the Council. For example, one start-up - FoodHall - set up a pay-as-you-feel café in a formerly disused building which CADS now manages under the name ‘The Cornerstone’, on Eyre Street in Sheffield’s city-centre. They’ve been a great success, securing funding from the Council themselves, while taking part in our Space CADets charitable programme, as well as building relationships with big supermarkets and independent traders who donate their food-waste. This then forms the basis of their menus, and the food and drinks are then pay-as-you-feel, ensuring that no-one is turned away.

We have lots of plans to take the charity further (we have made our 3 year business plan public) - we are building a website to act like Rightmove but for studio and disused space hires, where we will advertise from CADS and other organisations doing the same thing. We are also working on our first Social Impact Report which will demonstrate what we do as a charity and will be published in September. Other plans include expanding our array of short-, medium- and long-term buildings so that we can provide more immediate space in the short-term and secure a long-term base in the city, as well as developing our business support services.

The reason why I’m in Sheffield and what attracted me to the city first were the warm attitudes of the people and unique ethos of the city. I find Sheffield to be so different to any other city in the UK – everyone is so friendly, open and down to earth. I think it’s the strong sense of community here, the city’s cultural heritage of experimentation, and the forward-looking key institutions that make it a great place to have new ideas and try them out! As a city, Sheffield has a do-it-yourself culture and I’ve found it to be a very supportive place for small creative businesses. For example, at the beginning we received support from Business Sheffield, the Business arm of Sheffield City Council, and Sheffield Hallam University. They helped us with everything from business planning, business growth and advice, marketing assistance as well as providing us with networks who are now our clients and customers.

For those budding creative entrepreneurs my advice to you would be: don’t underestimate the amount of support there is available in Sheffield. Culturally and in terms of business networks, Sheffield is a really supportive city with lots of people pursuing new ideas and start-ups, making it a great place to take a risk. Look up Business Sheffield, the two Universities and CADS to see the kind of support and networking opportunities that are out there!

If you are looking for affordable space to break out on your own contact CADS on 0114 3489 421 or via email or visit their website to find out more

If you would like to learn more about the advice and support available in Sheffield for creative start-ups and other services Business Sheffield can provide, please contact  a member of the Business Gateway team on  0114 224 5000 or email Rob King