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

Andro and Eve

Finn Warman and Ibk Adebambo. Photo by Dawn Kilner

Andro and Eve have been bringing people together to celebrate queer culture in Sheffield since 2016. They started relatively small, screening things like 90s cult classic But I'm a Cheerleader and a documentary on butch identities between the wood panels of Cafe #9 in Nether Edge. From there, they moved on to drag king cabaret nights and workshops, poetry readings, collaborations with the likes of DocFest, and zines (available in their online shop). They’ve brought people together at the magnificent Crookes Social Club and Abbeydale Picture House over cabaret and cake with The Kingdom Come. And in 2022 they turned the Leadmill into the sparkling stage for A Reyt Queer Extravanganza, their biggest party to date. An immediate success, Andro and Eve's events were clearly just the kind of thing the city's LGBTQ+ community and their friends were hungry for – friendly, positive, and above all lots of fun.

We spoke to founder and director Finn Warman about what inspires them when it comes to creating joyful spaces for diverse and exciting queer sights and sounds in Sheffield.

How would you describe Andro and Eve?
We create unique, feel-good events to celebrate queer culture. Our approach is playful, creative, and motivated by a desire to provide accessible opportunities for the community to come together, develop their understanding, and share in memorable experiences. We’re a tiny social enterprise led by a board of directors.

Our work encompasses live performance events, including our big drag king cabaret The Kingdom Come, and queer party and cabaret A Reyt Queer Do, creative workshops such as drag king and gender exploration workshops, and collaborative art projects like the various zines we've produced in the last four years. Developing talent and supporting LGBTQ+ artists in the North of England is central to our approach.

We also deliver Gender Awareness Training, supporting organisations to implement policies and practices that better serve trans and gender expansive clients, colleagues and customers.

Our programme of events often focuses on voices that are otherwise marginalised, reflecting and celebrating the diversity that exists within the LGBTQIA community. As a queer-led organisation, ensuring our events and workshops are accessible to as many people as possible is also key.

What inspires you?
Attending events that are properly accessible such as Scotts Queer International Film Festival (SQIFF) in Glasgow or Leeds Queer Film Festival were a huge inspiration for Andro and Eve. The level of detail in planning for a range of access needs is something we strive for. I worked on an Arts Council Creative People and Places project from 2013–2016 in Doncaster called Right Up Our Street, and was hugely inspired by the time and dedication people gave to make creative things happen in their community. That experience was a huge inspiration in starting Andro and Eve back in 2016.

The team of volunteers we work with now and our community are a huge inspiration – we know from them how vital the creation of safe, joyful spaces for the LGBTQ+ community are. We’re also really inspired by so many queer artists and writers who have pushed for visibility and authenticity in how their voices are heard. Of course we are also inspired by the drag kings who are demonstrating that drag is not just about queens. Names such as CHIYO, Wesley Dykes, Oedipussi Rex , Richard Energy, Christian Adore and Sigi Moonlight are all artists we’ve worked with who keep pushing boundaries. It’s an exciting scene!

Who, what or where should be better known in Sheffield?
It feels like Sheffielders are very passionate about their city and people do know where the good stuff is at. However, there's still plenty of hidden gems. Juno Books are doing lots of fun and queer focused events and Queer Calendar Sheffield is a volunteer run initiative to try and boost visibility for LGBTQ+ focused events in the city.

What would you change about the city?
More arts funding per head would make a huge difference to Sheffield’s cultural scene. While the DIY ethos of the city is brilliant, and has helped so many great projects and ventures like Andro & Eve get started, we know from talking to other creative organisations how hard it is to grow and sustain in Sheffield. We’re all about being enterprising, but if other Northern cities like Manchester and Leeds are getting that investment, Sheffield should be too. Like a lot of Sheffielders we also want to see better transport links for the city and the North of England. Public transport has such a huge knock on effect of when and where we can put events on, especially when you work with vulnerable communities like we do.

What are you working on at the moment?
Covid was a game changer for us in terms of how we operate. We continue to build on the remote model we developed with a new zine called Reyt Proud, made with LGBTQ+ folks in Doncaster, which is part of a wider programme for LGBTQ+ people in Doncaster through Right Up Our Street. We're also determined to bring back our Extravaganza, an event created by Ghetto Fabulous, that we brought to Sheffield in 2022. But as previously mentioned, getting funding in Sheffield is hard! Our Gender Awareness Training now encompasses a range of offers, so we're always busy delivering that throughout the UK. We continue to produce our drag king cabaret The Kingdom Come at Crookes Social Club and have the next Salty Seas edition planned for April 2024!

Photo by Nelly Naylor

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