I remember a review once describing ShAFF as the 'Friendly Festival'. Just over two years ago we launched a Friends Of ShAFF scheme. It was something I'd wanted to do for years as I'd always felt that there were a good number of people who really like living in Sheffield, like the festival and all that it stands for, and would potentially be willing to support it.
It could hardly have come at a better time - over the last six months we've nearly doubled our number of patrons and now have nearly 50. It's quite humbling receiving the messages of support.
Although I'd had the idea of launching the scheme a while ago it wasn't until Patreon came along that I could see a viable way of administering it. What I never wanted to do was to was take some money, engrave some names on a plaque and leave it at that. We live in much more interesting and engaging times now than the old leisure centre approach. Patreon is fantastic. It allows would-be supporters to sign up to different tiers at different monthly amounts each giving different levels of perks and benefits.
One of the principal aims of the scheme has been to fund outreach talks in Sheffield's schools extoling the virtues of the Peak District, The Outdoor City, adventure, filmmaking and other good stuff. It's been thoroughly rewarding, having spoken to over 1,500 very diverse teenagers across the city before lockdown, with the prospect of countless more as restrictions hopefully allow.
So, the purpose of this post: as times change, private sponsorship is sure to be harder to come by, and we look towards a hybrid model for the future of the festival, part physical, part online, I'm asking what else the festival can offer its Friends in return for financial support? If you've not signed up, what might encourage you to do so, and if you are already a Patron, what else could we do to float your boat and keep you engaged?