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

Ignite Imaginations

What is beauty? Where am I from? How am I? Ignite Imaginations employs creativity as a catalyst to address pertinent social questions and themes.

Founded by Roanna Heller and Cassie Limb, the charity began as Art In The Park, encouraging residents of northwest Sheffield to flex their creative muscles and engage with naturally found objects. As the project evolved the enterprise became a charity and was christened Ignite Imaginations in 2014.

The charity identified the need for a shared creative community and began running events and workshops that allowed participants to pursue endeavours like creative writing, poetry and visual arts. In the past twelve years Ignite has worked with over 25,000 people, delivered around 1000 events and workshops across Sheffield, and fundraised over £700,000 for creative delivery in and around Sheffield.

Ignite's 2016 exhibition Happy Sheffield was immensely popular, measuring happiness and seven other emotional states via an “affect analysis” of the words used by Twitter users in Sheffield. This project sums up the charity's ethos: it is an unusual, inspiring and innovative means of providing a community with the tools and support to create a happy and imaginative existence.

How would you describe your work?
We celebrate and connect communities through creativity. Our events and workshops use visual arts, creative writing and poetry to support individuals to increase confidence, skill and sense of community. We provide inspiring, innovative experiences for people of all ages and backgrounds, aiming specifically at those that would not normally have the opportunity.

What inspires you?
We want to provide accessible creative experiences for Sheffield’s communities. Ultimately we are inspired by making a positive impact – "I didn’t have a creative bone in my body when I started, but now I’m all creative bones!" said a participant from a project in sheltered housing schemes.

What’s your workspace like?
We have a small office that we operate out of but we deliver our creative workshops all over the city in libraries, community centres, parks, housing schemes…

What do you love about Sheffield?
There’s such a strong and supportive creative community; we’ve been delighted to be involved in the launch of the Creative Guild for example. We love the way we’ve been able to work in partnerships in the city, with libraries, social housing schemes and so on. And we are very glad that people value the work that we do!

What would you do to improve the city?
There’s a lot of the city that is still untouched; lots of empty spaces, both developed and undeveloped. We’d love to see them full of businesses, creatives and activity.

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