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CADS → Our Favourite Places – Sheffield Culture Guide

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The Sheffield culture guide written by in-the-know locals

Photo by Sammi Sparke Photography, courtesy of CADS

There are few areas in Sheffield where the city's industrial history can be read quite so clearly as in Shalesmoor. A long-idle cementation furnace stands on the same spot as it was built on nearly 170 years ago: the last of its kind left in the country, today it backs onto the HSBC offices's car park. Warehouses sit in much the same state as they were left in in the 1970s and 80s, albeit with the additional layer of paint peelings and bird droppings. As fascinating as these remains are, for some time this part of the city wasn't much of a present-day destination – until CADS came along.

Sitting on Smithfield, between the city centre and the ale houses of Kelham Island, CADS (Creative Arts Development Space)'s flagship studio and exhibition/event space CADS Works opened in 2010. With demand for affordable creative workspaces running high in the city, CADS founder Steve Rimmer saw untapped potential in the abandoned factories down by the River Don. Starting with a disused cutlery workshop – showing it a little love and bringing a bit of colour back to its cheeks – Steve and his team soon had CADS Works up and running, and perceptions of the Shalesmoor area noticeably began to change for the better.

With an ideal balance of respect for heritage and vision for the future, the CADS network has gone on to spread into other uninhabited buildings across the city over the past six years. And, at the same time as supporting Sheffield's next generation of artists and makers, The Night Kitchen at CADS has become one of the most renowned club nights around. We found out more from Team CADS.

How would you describe your work?
CADS is a DIY arts charity headquartered in our Shalesmoor hub CADS Works, but which has creative complexes throughout the city. Traditionally we provide affordable multi-purpose studios and spaces for hire, whilst running club nights through our partner the Night Kitchen, and hosting exhibitions, photo and film shoots. Increasingly we’re transforming into incubator for new talent and for start-up businesses in the creative and third sectors, providing essential services and support garnered through our own developmental experience as a DIY organisation.

What inspires you?
The idea of ethical trading; of bringing social value, ethical responsibility and common goals to business.

What’s your workspace like?
Our office space is spacious, filled with plants, and our desks made by one of our collaborative projects with the University of Sheffield, Chop Shop CNC. It gets a lot of light through the windows that span the length of one side of the office, which is lovely in the summer, but horrifically cold in the winter! It’s an old industrial space so the insulation isn’t quite there.

What are you working on at the moment?
We always have multiple projects on the go, but two key ones are at the forefront at the moment. There's CADS Space, a wholly-owned trading arm which will focus solely on the development of our workspaces for independent social, digital and creative industries and individuals across the city. In tandem with this we launched CADS Trust, an umbrella for all our operations. It’s been a big project, but one that’s really exciting and brings with it lots of opportunities to develop our charitable projects (such as giving subsidised space to artists looking to carry out new projects), as well as developing our business support services.

The other key project we’ve been working on is a collaboration with Common Ground and the University of Sheffield, called Union Street – Sheffield city centre’s first dedicated co-working space. It’s been really exciting to see it evolve, and to see the co-working ideal being implemented with lots of cross-pollination and collaboration between new partners.

What do you love about Sheffield?
Sheffield is a city rich in cultural innovation, with pioneering achievements in music, industry and architecture. These achievements were produced by the people in the city, and despite the common pride felt over them, and the legacy they still inspire today, Sheffield is one of the most humble, grounded, and easygoing places in the UK. It’s just a lovely place filled with lovely people, and a city in which grassroots enterprises and a belief in the value of the arts is really strong. And that’s not to mention the Peak District!

What would you do to improve the city?
Do something to stop developers gentrifying some of the most valuable DIY and independent locations in the city, which are loved and valued by so many and which play a defining role in the city’s identity. Planning law and regulations are such a minefield, and the changes necessary to really reign in property developers would need to happen at a national level rather than a city one, but it’s a depressing aspect of the city’s contemporary evolution that has to change.

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