Securing the future of Sheffield’s iconic Leadmill venue

Originating as a community arts centre, Sheffield’s famous venue The Leadmill has a storied history dating back to its opening in 1980. Over the years the venue has witnessed performances from iconic bands including the Arctic Monkeys, Oasis and Coldplay and is a key part of Sheffield’s vibrant music scene.

In 2017, when the venue was threatened with redevelopment, Electric Group, an independent music venue operator secured the freehold. In 2022, Electric Group moved to take over the venue’s operations to preserve its cultural significance.

This decision triggered a vehement response from the incumbent leaseholder who launched a high-profile campaign, utilising celebrities and household names from the worlds of music and comedy, to “Save the Leadmill”. The campaign’s celebrity backers, which included Joe Lycett, Jarvis Cocker and Eddie Izzard, spoke with passion of their views on the venue’s future.

The campaign quickly gained momentum and became a formidable force in the press, on social media and in the court of public opinion. This created a significant risk that the Electric Group’s true intentions for the Leadmill were becoming ignored as a result.

With the public and other key stakeholders being given one side of the story, the Electric Group turned to the PHA Group to give the facts – and reassure the public that the Leadmill would indeed live on as a proud, vibrant music venue.

Faced with a mission to turn around the narrative, we implemented a comprehensive strategy to reshape public perception.

We engaged journalists across national, local, and trade media – providing briefings and setting up interviews for Electric Group to put its case forward. Through our targeted media relations campaign, we secured interviews with key outlets including NME and BBC Radio Sheffield to reassure the public that The Leadmill was not facing closure but rather undergoing preservation under new stewardship.

We elevated the story from a local dispute to a national conversation. Central to the narrative shift was the positioning of the business as a successful music venue operator, and its commitment to safeguarding the Leadmill’s future.

Our work successfully turned initial scepticism towards Electric Group into understanding and support. ahead of an all-important premises licence hearing in September of 2023. As part of this, we were able to introduce new, factual stories to the media which shifted perception of the client. The court victory marked a turning point – helping to secure the venue’s future, informing the public discourse, and strengthening Electric Group’s positioning ahead of another court case in May 2024.

Our campaigns’ efforts to force transparency and accountability from ‘Save the Leadmill’ resulted in a remarkable decline in negative sentiment towards Electric Group. Celebrities who were initially vocal supporters of ‘Save the Leadmill’’ became less prominent in the public debate.

Our media relations campaign was successful in transforming the narrative for Electric Group and securing the future of Sheffield’s iconic Leadmill venue. BBC coverage with the headline “Sheffield’s The Leadmill is not going anywhere” marked a campaign highlight.

The campaign has been nominated for a PRWeek Corporate Affairs Award.


Positive sentiment at the conclusion of our campaign


Pieces of significant media coverage


Court victory


Shortlisted for PRWeek’s Corporate Affairs Award

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