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Picture courtesy Human Studio/University of Sheffield
Picture courtesy Human Studio/University of Sheffield

Sheffield short-listed to host Great Exhibition of North

 Friday 29 July

Sheffield has been shortlisted to host the Great Exhibition of the North in Summer 2018.

Nine bids were submitted on the 30 June and four towns and cities have been selected to go through to the next stage by the Great Exhibition Board, that has representatives from the arts, culture and design sectors, and is chaired by Sir Gary Verity CEO of Welcome to Yorkshire.

Sheffield will now compete with Bradford, Blackpool, and Newcastle-Gateshead when each city will play host to a visit from the Board in August and then called for an interview in Leeds.

The Board will then report to the new Minister for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock and new Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Karen Bradley, and the winning venue will be announced in the Autumn.

The Government announced in April this year its desire for a Great Exhibition of the North and that there would be £5m funding to support the host venue to stage the planned activities. The exhibition will showcase a celebration of the great art, culture, creative industry, innovation and design from the north of England.

The Sheffield Culture Consortium led Sheffield’s bid on behalf of Sheffield City Region. The two bid leaders were Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director of City & Cultural Engagement at The University of Sheffield and Chair of the Culture Consortium, and Kim Streets, CEO of Museums Sheffield.

Vanessa said: We are proud that Sheffield City Region has been shortlisted in our Year of Making. We would not have been able to do this without the tremendous support of the creative industries and businesses of our great region.


“Sheffield will demonstrate how we are the gateway to the North and we will work across cities and towns to help shape the future in art, design, culture and future technology. I would to thank all my colleagues in the Culture Consortium and the bid writing team for getting us on the dance floor.”

Kim added: “The Great Exhibition is a brilliant opportunity for the North to demonstrate cultural excellence and ambition for the future.   Sheffield City Region has talented, creative people, stunning landscape and some of the best public realm in the UK – we have the perfect stage from which to showcase the very best of the North to the World and we are thrilled to be shortlisted.”

Councillor Julie Dore, Leader of Sheffield City Council said: “We are delighted that Sheffield has been shortlisted for the Great Exhibition of the North. There was some tough competition and to be in the final four cities is an honour.

“I would like to thank the collaboration of partners from the culture consortium for the hard work they put into the bid. Obviously at this stage, we hope we can go all the way and win.”

The Sheffield City Region bid has had testimonials of support by organisations and investors in the city region, and has already secured a pledge of £250,000 from Sheffield BID. The bid has support from all sectors and the team is determined to bring the Great Exhibition of the North to this region, as they believe it has the capability, creativity, environment and the right attitude to deliver a true celebration of the north. As Vanessa added: “we’re in it to win it.”

 As a City of Makers, Sheffield is incredibly well placed not just to host an exhibition but also to create a large part of its content. If the exhibition is to succeed both in celebrating the north for the north and also in showcasing the north to the wider world, it needs to do so from a basis of creatively. This bid, I am delighted to note, excels in that. Equally, Sheffield, as one of the north’s great cities, has the infrastructure in place to host both the exhibition itself and visitors that it will attract. As a city that is in many respects a gateway to the north, we will be well placed to create an impact this initiative is designed to do, and we will do this in a populist, community and creative way.

John Mothersole, Chief Executive