I Made This by Chris Bush

In 2016, Sheffield celebrated a Year of Making and the playwright Chris Bush was commissioned to write a poem about the city and making. The poem is featured here. Chris will be talking on Thursday 19 October about her experiences of writing for theatre.

I made this
One of a multitude, yes,
A drop in the metropolis
Shoulder to shoulder with over half a million
Proud northern souls who call here home:
Sheffield – the Steel City
Or so you might’ve heard
But though we’re grateful for our stainless name
That’s only one part of our story

I made this
And here’s the measure of it:
Our nation’s fourth largest city
Built on weir and wheel,
On earth and ore and fire
But driven by people now
So here they are:
23,000 who live in the city centre
70,000 studying – 10,000 of those from overseas
1.3 million who use our airport annually
10,000 climbers, 14,000 runners
20,000 cyclists, each of whom would swear
There’s more than just the seven hills
But who’s counting?

I made this
Alongside the 11,500
Employed in arts and entertainment across the city
Digital and creative – generating £273
Million for our local economy
The Millennium Galleries –
Most visited free attraction in the North
Where our heritage takes pride of place
Alongside exhibits from the V&A and Tate
Plus over 20 other small galleries
19 studios housing 362 artists
Marking this place as their territory
The Showroom – not just one of the best in the country
But one of Europe’s largest proudly independent cinemas
Home of the BFI Film Academy
And Doc/Fest, renowned internationally
Sheffield Theatres
Who each year shift 400,000 tickets
Applaud it – their shows drip
With a glittering litany of awards and plaudits
And what’s more it’s ours – so let’s get straight
They might reach the West End, but London can wait
And then music – mate, cos this city sings
Of Common People doing uncommon things
We always look good on the dancefloor
So don’t you want us, baby?
Come on – pour some sugar on me –
24 labels, 65 studios, 465 bands –
All arguably fuelled by our 57 local breweries
But who’s counting?

I made this
22,000 jobs in manufacturing
That’s a lot of cutlery
And a lot, lot more than that
That’s keeping our hands busy
That’s world-building, world-beating,
World leading –
That’s why we’re the UK’s first
Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District
That’s why we outstrip the national average
For job creation and consumer spend
That’s why Made in Sheffield still means something
All those knives and forks forking out
To the far corners of the earth
And bringing the world back here
Because we made this

I made this
And this place made me
And I could talk of forges
A people wrought from some primordial fire
And happily embellish
On a population that’s equal parts
Iron ore and Henderson’s Relish
But maybe that’s all fantasy
And now down in the valley
You’ll find as much silicon as steel
And that’s no bad thing
Because we made this
And look at what we’re offering:
Tramlines, Outlines,
Festival of the Mind
Sheffield Design Week
Art Sheffield
Open Up Sheffield
Last Laugh Comedy Festival
Doc/Fest, Sensoria, Off the Shelf
And plenty else besides
We made all this:
A City of Makers –
Taking over, shaping the conversation
Claiming our stake in what comes next
And yes, in 2016 we celebrate a year of it –
Our Year of Making,
Showcasing events and exhibits
But this isn’t a new thing
This is just a taste – a little offering
Of all that stuff that makes us who we are
So wherever you were made –
Ordained for the terraces at Hillsborough
Or Bramhall Lane
If the Crucible set you ablaze
Or the Showroom showed you the way
If you found serenity in our green space
Or gazing at some brand-new piece of art
Each element combines to play its part
It all starts here, and though we’re uninclined
To blow our own horns, or make a fuss
For now we’ll simply say
Made in Sheffield: that’s us.