Yes We Can! It seems we can all rise to a new challenge as Sheffield sees itself as a diverse centre for creative expression and the cultural industries that make up no less than 10% of the wealth in the UK economy. Over six thousand jobs have been supported in the creative industries. Burngreave is a growing centre for intercultural creativity with several arts events and new centres of activity increasing by the day.
The Burngreave Vestry Hall opened its doors to new activities earlier this year and SEMEA is the newest player on the block. Southern E Media Education Arts (SEMEA) was actually founded in 2001 by volunteers based in Burngreave and was set up to support intercultural exchange between Southern African artists and the local community. Drawing on management experience in the international performing and digital arts, educational training and publishing they have now been part funded by Burngreave New Deal to launch their Cultural Industries Challenge (BCIC).
The SEMEA team have led the arts component of the Times Newspapers Leadership Challenge for several years aimed at junior management whose winning teams end up in Southern Africa working in a local community and raising funds for Accounting for Africa. They have supported the development of their own ongoing projects Kutamba! School of Performing Arts and SOSA-XA! Sounds of Southern Africa. Sheffield’s intercultural choir. The choir performed for the BBC Last Choir Standing Festival at the summer festival in Derby drawing its members from a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds. It also entered the BBC Radio 3 Choir of the Year competition being selected for the regional heats (see also http://www.bbc.co.uk/lastchoirstanding). They draw on 16 years of experience working in theatres, festivals and the international touring circuit.
SEMEA also takes artists into South Yorkshire schools for up to a week at a time having worked in over 180 schools in the last few years. Most recently Kutamba! Kids was relaunched in Burngreave in partnership with the African Language School with a successful half term project engaging the youth in performance, theatre and arts activities led by Mandla Sibanda, Ethel Dlamini and Owen Ncube. SEMEA also co-hosted a voice workshop with the London Sinfonietta Ugandan Dance Academy project in October in partnership with the University of Sheffield music dept. Kutamba! will continue to meet on Saturdays as an intercultural performance and digital project for young people.
As a capacity building organisation SEMEA continue to try and support projects locally, and in developing countries, that work with artists. This work includes support for the Es’phakeni Youth Arts centre in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and Sunduza Dance Theatre who set up a touring base in Burngreave in 1992. Over £3000 has been raised for improvements to the toilets, water supply and plans for the centre facilities. However it is equally important that local creative activites emerge from the exchange and potentially have a global outreach.
The BCIC Challenge is an idea to be built upon with local people and organisations seeking to network and collaborate effectively in creating new and sustainable projects through team cooperation. This will include a Great Cultural Ndaba on 25/26 April 2009. Why not upload some of your creative work to the new “V” Space channel at
The BCIC idea will launch officially on Saturday 13 December at the “V” Space, a term coined for the magnificent space at the newly regenerated “Victorian” Vestry Hall. The Victorians saw in an era of exploration to create new opportunities and the Challenge will also enable participants to reach out to unfamiliar territory. 13 December will see the Burngreave Electric Gala with workshops, Challenge events and entertainment drawing on the skills of local artists hosted by SEMEA with Kutamba, SOSA-XA! and guests.
If you want to participate on December 13 or during the course of 2009 events contact the SEMEA team at the Vestry Hall. By email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0114 2133803. Check out some of what they have been up to in their newsletters at http://www.semea.org.uk