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Creative and curious minds from across South Yorkshire gathered at the National Videogame Museum in Sheffield for the latest event hosted by Innovation Network South Yorkshire.

The unique museum was a hive of activity as over 100 representatives from business, the creative industries and academia gathered to share expertise, make new connections and battle it out on the array of retro videogames.

Thought-provoking opening addresses from Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director of City, Culture and Public Engagement at the University of Sheffield; Professor David Cotterrell, Director of Sheffield Hallam University’s Culture & Creativity Research Institute; and Surriya Falconer, Chair of the Sheffield Culture Collective, set the scene with an overview of the region’s cultural offer and how we can all be a part of it.

From there, the attendees split into three discussion groups, each highlighting exciting local projects and initiatives that aim to bring people together and improve access to culture and the arts: 

– Anna Santomauro, Curator, Arts Catalyst & Senior Research Fellow, Sheffield Hallam University, with: ‘Curating situated practices across places, communities and institutions’

– Emily Pieters, Project Director, Harmony Works, with: ‘Reactivating heritage to stimulate placemaking, collaboration and community revival’

Surriya Falconer, Chair, Sheffield Culture Collective, with: ‘The role and responsibilities businesses and organisations have to culture and the arts in our region’

Emma Cooper, Knowledge Transfer Manager for Creative Industries, Innovate UK KTN, then gave a closing address in which she discussed the various ways organisations can harness university expertise and access available funding streams.

From there, it was time for guests to take a trip down memory lane and challenge their new connections on one of the Museum’s many nostalgia-inspiring titles. Attendees finished the evening with a well-deserved winter warmer pie. The talks, discussions, gaming (and pies) all proved a hit with guests, with feedback including:

“Brilliant event!! Focused, informative, interactive and a great place to network. Can’t wait for the next one. Count me in!”

“Very well done event! I thoroughly enjoyed it, much more than I even thought I would. What a great opportunity to meet local businesses.”

“Interesting talks, great venue, delicious pie and peas. Thank you.”

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director of City, Culture and Public Engagement at the University of Sheffield, said: “South Yorkshire boasts an incredibly rich and vibrant cultural tradition, and we know the creative industries are integral in driving footfall to our towns and cities and growing the regional economy.

“We work very closely with civic and industry partners, actively engaging with communities across the region. But our door is always open, and we welcome new opportunities, collaborations, and avenues to share our academic expertise and research.

“It was inspiring to spend an evening with like-minded people who share our passion for harnessing our communities’ many talents to improve the region for everyone.

“We’ll look forward to seeing the fruits of the many new connections made on the night.”

Professor David Cotterrell, Director of Sheffield Hallam University’s Culture & Creativity Research Institute, said: “As an institute, we continuously seek new ways to engage and build relationships with South Yorkshire’s creators and makers, creating new access points to our diverse research specialities.

 “We view knowledge exchange as a two-way flow of sharing and learning, which was very much evident in the many fascinating discussions throughout the evening.

 “Events like this are crucial to our mission of fostering collaborations, enabling us to share our research and knowledge for the benefit of the wider region.”

You can download pictures from the event here. Feel free to share them on social media – and be sure to tag us so that we can like and share (please credit photographer Tracey Welch). 

We also love to hear about the new connections made at Innovation Network events and the exciting ideas and initiatives they can lead to. If you have a story to share, please contact us at

Our next Innovation Network event will be in Barnsley in Spring 2024. Stay tuned to our social media channels for the latest updates.