Jo Towler
Makes Sheffield

Executive Director, Music in the Round

Sheffield makes me enjoy life to the full. 

My main role is as Executive Director of Music in the Round, the leading national promoter of chamber music in the country. We deliver hundreds of events a year around the country, mostly in South Yorkshire. Projects and concerts for babies and toddlers as well as events for children and young people are an important part of our activity, but our concert series in our Crucible Studio home is world-renowned. We bring top world-class artists to Sheffield, such as pianists Stephen Hough and Angela Hewitt, violinist Tasmin Little and groups including Leveret and the Marmen Quartet. We perform to over 30,000 people a year, and people come to Sheffield from far and wide for our annual Sheffield Chamber Music Festival in May, which has been entertaining audiences since 1984.  

I am also part of Classical Sheffield, a unique organisation that supports its 70 member organisations in promoting classical music in Sheffield. It leads a biennial Weekend Festival that in March 2019 reached over 10,000 people, dramatically increasing footfall in the city centre to the benefit of the local economy. Other roles include being a board member of Create Sheffield, which aims to bring Sheffield's culture to young people aged 0-25, especially those who wouldn't otherwise access it; and on the advisory board of Sheffield Music Hub, one of the best in the country that engages with 35,000 young people each week. 

I'm a regular visitor to London, especially having lived there for over 20 years, but my interaction with Sheffield is one of joy, with everything it has to offer. I came to Sheffield to work, but chose to live here as well as it's a great city. It has a compact centre, so it's easy to walk to/from shops and the office from home. It's very green and has a lot of open space with a few tall buildings, so you can always see the surrounding hills from wherever you are. The grandeur of its 19th-century buildings makes walking around it a pleasure, as does the Winter Garden and Peace Gardens to hang out in. Its proximity to the Peak District is renowned, and to be able to walk to both work and the glorious green of the luscious valleys is rightly legendary.

It has a buzzing nightlife, with many restaurants of varying cuisines, and bars that sell a selection of excellent, inexpensive beers to keep even the most discerning of CAMRA members happy. There are many festivals that bring big names to Sheffield, such as Off The Shelf and Doc Fest, and the series of events at City Hall means there is no need to travel further afield for high-quality entertainment.  

Above all Sheffield provides space, mentally and physically, for many people, making it a healthy place to live and work. 

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