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

Andro and Eve

Finn Warman. Photo by Ndrika Anyika

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 taken over the magnificent Abbeydale Picture House, turning it into the sparkling stage for their massive drag king cabaret night The Kingdom Come. And they've brought people together at Theatre Deli over dancing, cabaret and cake, with their queer party series A Reyt Queer Do. 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.

We have three strands to our work. These are, live performance, including our big drag king cabaret, The Kingdom Come and queer party and cabaret, A Reyt Queer Do. We also produce one off film screenings, and deliver drag king and gender as performance workshops. Developing talent and supporting queer artists in the North of England is central to our approach.

We programme film and live performance that explore queer stories, often focusing 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 have been hugely inspiring. 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 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 & Eve back in 2016.

The team of 12 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 such as Kate Bornstein, Travis Alabanza, DYLEMA (who performed for us in Sheffield in 2018), Perfume Genius, Janelle Monae, Celine Sciamma, who have pushed for visibility and authenticity in how their voices are heard. Of course we are also inspired the drag kings who are demonstrating that drag is not just about queens. Names such as Chiyo Gomes, Adam All, Oedipussi, Benjamin Butch, Shesus and the Sisters, Wesley Dykes and Louis Cyfer 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. It still feels like fringe venues like Theatre Deli, although well known, are not quite appreciated for the level of support they give to small arts organisations like us, in terms of mentoring, free space and tech support. They have been vital in helping us grow and contribute a lot to the arts ecology of the city. That’s so precious in a city that does not receive as much arts funding per head than similar sized cities.

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?
We’ve been very much affected by the Covid-19 crisis, losing a lot of income. So we’re currently planning activity that can bring our community together and develop talent remotely, and applying for emergency funding to support this. We hope to be back with live events including our big drag king cabaret, The Kingdom Come before the end of 2020, but there is so much uncertainty right now so we’re trying to stay responsive. We’re also developing training to support LGBTQ+ awareness in the workplace in response to several requests to facilitate this.

2021 update: Andro and Eve continue to bring their community together remotely, with the zine project Joyful Noise, online writing workshops, and more.

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