A few years ago MyOutdoors wrote a rather nice review about ShAFF. They called it 'the friendly festival'. It made me very happy at the time. This is testament not only to the team that delivers the event, but to the community of people who support it. Many of these people are understandably from Sheffield - it’s The Outdoor City - but many travel each year from all over the UK. I've long held the desire to have a proper Friends Of The Festival scheme to acknowledge this community and to give it the means to support and engage with the festival aside from simply coming along in March, but have never taken the plunge with it.
Then long-time ShAFF friend, supporter and now team member Paul Diffley from Hot Aches Productions told me about Patreon. It's a crowdfunding platform which can be used for projects like this. Supporters can opt in to make micro payments in return for benefits, and become loyal fans year-round. I've spent a good deal of time over the summer and into autumn fine tuning things and am finally happy to share it with the wider world.
It would have been easy to simply offer a package of discounts, deals, and prizes in return for support, and I'm sure folk would have signed up, but I wanted to use the 'friendly festival' as a starting point and not a goal and work on growing the community base with a more ambitious aim.
Sheffield is an awesome city, but it's by no means perfect. I read a recent article that pointed out the massive disparity between the south west and the north east quarters, with huge differences in life expectancy, education and opportunity. Each year we get a healthy number of kids at the festival, but it's a teeny fraction of the overall population. I want to share the often-life-changing inspiration that the films give, with schools from every corner of the city. I'm going to use the money from the scheme to take the films to the schools and help educate the kids of The Outdoor City exactly what they have on their doorstep and inspire them to get out there; to use it, to value it, and to protect it.
Please take five minutes to look at it and consider contributing.
If you like it, then please also share it and get your friends, family and followers interested too. If you'd like to support the scheme with pledges of your own to add to the list of benefits then let me know.