First off, an apology from the Fact Totem team for going so digitally quiet on you all with this project. It’s been a complicated few months.


As some of you will have noticed the prototype Totem is now no longer on Devonshire Green. This is in the large part due to two factors. Firstly, we have received a bill from Sheffield City Council rates department threatening court action unless we paid just under £1,000 in business rates, despite having not charged anyone for any of the services we have delivered. Having now paid this bill in an effort to avoid court action and consequent bad credit issues, the not-for-profit, non-incorporated body that is Fact Totem is heavily in the minus figures. Naturally we’re dismayed at this aggressive reaction from the Council rates department to a community enterprise which aims to help independent traders, community groups and charities by offering free poster space on a pilot display unit on Devonshire Green.


Our second reason is slightly more complicated. Our planning permission was coming to an end in January 2014 and a new JC Decaux cylinder has been placed within 20 metres of the Totem, which leads us to believe that a re-application for planning permission would have been denied outright by the planning department. Again at this we are dismayed at the seeming indifference to community projects over corporate commercial enterprises.

In better news, we have now managed, after over a year of asking, to meet the planning department and some of those in the Council who are responsible for external outdoor advertising. We are told that a 20-year exclusivity deal signed with JC Decaux on outdoor advertising is now coming to an end and that this year a tender will be released, allowing businesses to compete to provide outdoor advertising in Sheffield. We are told that we may too compete for this tender.

We asked whether they would be considering third sector and socially beneficial projects for this tender, they said yes, but that they were also tasked with obtaining large amounts of revenue from outdoor advertising. We asked how they would be balancing social impact with financial value. They unfortunately did not know the answer, but have said they will find out and let us know. We wait with baited breath.


And so we enter a kind of limbo period. Support for Fact Totem has been universal across independent traders, community groups, charities and all those members of the Council who are fortunately not in position to offer anything but comment and positive encouragement. We are told that they appreciate the values of the project and that it fits in with their city-wide strategy to support independent trade and social cohesion. Let’s hope that these sentiments so commonly expressed translate into action. Let’s hope that the tender process for outdoor advertising isn’t handed off to the nearest corporate in an effort to raise more money for a broke local government. Let’s hope that the council is able to appreciate the long game just long enough to help us all to help ourselves.

 If you’re interested in finding out more about the Fact Totem project or helping out, please drop us an email on




As the streets get colder and the mornings ever icy, like a vigilant dark knight, the Totem stands tall on Devonshire Green; soon to be covered from head to toe in December events and NYE promotions from local traders, promoters, community groups and charities. The Totem remains indifferent to the onset of the years waning weather, awaiting it’s next test – Bring on the snow…


In better news, as of late November we entered our application for planning permission from Sheffield City Council to keep the Totem on Devonshire Green and are presumably due a response very soon. Fingers crossed. We have also had several mini tours of the Totem with the likes of Ed Highfield Director at Creative Sheffield, Lee Bramall Cabinet member for Business Skills and Development, and John Mothersole Chief Executive of the Council all of whom were interested in the potential of the Totem and keen to see the development of additional methods of support for local independent traders.

We are currently organising a meeting with the Planning Department and AMEY to take the next steps in the project. We hope to build a further 59 Cylinders around the City and its various satellite villages, thus providing a local, independent and afforable equivalent to JC Decaux.  We do of course have our own list of potential locations, but If you have any suggestions or would like to see a Totem in your community  please contact us  at


We are also very pleased to announce that, once in place we will be able to offer 10% of each cylinder to local community groups free of charge. Naturally, in this digital day and age we often forget our geographic communities, our fellow neighbours, the people we queue with at the local shop, so hopefully the Totems may be in a position to provide communities in Sheffield with one further method by which they can share events and local information with each other.


As always if you are a local independent trader, community group or charity and would like to get a poster up on the prototype Totem, we provide A1, A2 & A3 display space free of any rental charge all you need to do is provide us with the poster and we’ll do the rest.

Get in touch at

You can find us on Facebook search ‘Fact Totem’ and on Twitter at @totemfacts.




So, the Totem has been live on Devonshire Green now for just over 4 weeks. It has survived heavy wind and rain alike and to us at least, now seems a perfectly natural part of the Devonshire Green landscape. Our originally allotted time of 4 weeks is now up. Feedback from promoters, venue owners, local retailers, like-minded organisations and the general public has been universally positive, which we’re naturally over the moon about. Watching people eat their lunch while myself, Sara, Jonny, Chris, Ben, Keith, or Mark paste posters up has been an amusingly self -conscious highlight.




Due to current organisational challenges within the council and in part because of the new relationship with construction conglomerate AMEY, we as yet have still received no word from the powers that be as to whether we can build more Totems, our application for planning permission is in and we are waiting for an opportunity to discuss additional locations. We have received several positive responses from city councillors and continued support from City Centre management and the city centre venue organisation U Night. Furthermore councillors will be visiting the Totem on Devonshire green from next week for questions and answers and a walk around. We hope that following all this we will be given the opportunity to discuss an additional 60 locations around the city and it’s outlying areas.




Overall the Totem and its posterial passengers have lasted very well. The posters themselves are of course open to the elements and so some have needed replacing over the last 4 weeks.  We have replaced some posters due to discolouration from running ink and we have also had just two occurrences of late night Saturday revellers running their keys down a poster or two. Bless them drunken fools. So overall we’re very happy with how little maintenance has been required and we believe this bodes well for future multi-totem installations.

Additionally we have gained further insight into not only the types of paper stock and paste which work best on the Totem (150-170gsm paper stock)  but also an indication from the public as to how well the Totem has been received and how happy people are to have a genuinely independent menu of organisations, events and activities for Sheffield.




Firstly, we work exclusively with local independent traders, community groups, charities, cooperatives and local gov. If you are a franchise, or a multi-national this is not the advertising medium you’re looking for. FACT!

We’re interested in all types of events and take posters for A3 / A2 and A1 sizing. All you need to do is just get in touch


Thanks for reading and supporting the Fact Totem project. As always what we need is for people to share and promote the concept around social networks, both digital and physical.

You can find us on Facebook search ‘Fact Totem’ and on Twitter at #totemfacts.



After an early start yesterday and a baptism by fire into the art of poster pasting on a steel cylinder, Fact Totem is finally live on Devonshire Green. We’ve had some encouraging responses already and we’re always up for hearing more if you’d like to comment on the blog or facebook.

If your interested in finding out more about Fact Totem and how you can support the project, please get in touch at

Once more thank you to all the people, organisations and friends who have supported this project over the many months of its life so far. This is the first stage prototype and we will be petitioning for permission to roll out more cylinders around the city and turn this project into a sustainable, not-for-profit enterprise.

Below are some choice pics of the Totem rising for those of you who have yet to meet it in person.


After a not insignificant period of time spent working on this project, we at Fact Totem are overjoyed to be able to say – categorically and without any nervous facial twitches – that the Totem will be on Devonshire Green on Thursday this week (23rd August). Tomorrow. Huzzah.

We want to say a huge thank you to the organisations that have supported us so far, particularly the city centre management team, the U-night meeting group and its chair Scott Bailey, without whom we would have struggled to make the necessary connections and join the dots as we have.

The Totem will be up for four weeks on Devonshire Green and feature a whole host of what this independent, community arts driven city has to offer. You will be able to see at a glance the range of institutions, cultural icons, small traders, community groups and charities currently working in Sheffield, providing non-corporate and genuine outputs. Despite our relatively small amount of involvement in delivering the independent produce of Sheffield, we are very proud.

It is important to remember though that this is a prototype. It is an early stage in getting the project across Sheffield, providing a platform for local independents, community groups and charities; a platform that will level the playing field and ensure that the activities of local people are in the limelight as much as the latest offer from HMV or MacDonald’s.

Also worthy of a mention is Jerry at Arcrite, who fabricated the Jonny Douglas design for the cylinder. His suggestions and willingness to go that extra mile have made the job so much easier. Thank you, Jerry.

Below are some pictures of the cylinder in development, from skeletal frame to fully fledged and painted.

The Totem is manufactured from a steel box section and rolled galvanised steel sheets. It has been triple coated to prevent rust and to ensure a consistent paint job throughout. It has adjustable feet to ensure a steady fixture to different angled surfaces and also has integral lifting points for flexibility of movement from location to location. It will also be ballasted with gravel to prevent tipping.

The Totem design in these pictures is a full cylinder, which is our largest version and contains the maximum surface area for poster space. The cylinder is specifically designed to be modular in construction, allowing us the option of quarter and half cylinders for smaller street pavements and wall backed locations.

We’re always interested in feedback, so please get in touch. Fingers crossed, with your support we’ll see this project go live across Sheffield.


Where indeed?

We are close I assure you folks. There are, as you may imagine, innumerable hurdles and hoops to dance around but fear not; we are pointed forward and are endeavouring to get the Fact Totem cylinder on Devonshire Green within the next 2 weeks.

If you want to be featured for free on the very first (of many) Totems then get in touch now. We have already a multitude of interesting organisations and events being pushed and we are imagining a vivid menu of arts, charities and events for Sheffield folk to have a gander at and get involved in. The posters are streaming in thick and fast.

The Totem is being lovingly painted as we type and we’ll have photos very soon for your visual delectation right here on this very blog type thing.

In the spirit of one large chunk of carbon to another, we’d ask you to put it all in perspective by checking out the following link –

Fact galore folks.


We find ourselves grinning inanely at the comprehensive levels of support we are receiving for the Fact Totem project; not only from a host of local independent promoters, community groups, charities and cooperatives, but from the cultural and institutional icons of Sheffield – the Showroom Cinema, Sheffield Theatres, Sheffield City Hall, Sheffield Museums… the list goes on. Thank you, from the big to the medium to the small – all of you.

What we need in the run-up to the prototype arriving on Devonshire Green is as much talk and chatter about the project as possible, be this online via Facebook, Twitter and blogs, or simply amongst each other. Please spread the word.

Remember, it’s people power that will make the difference here.


To some extent social enterprise projects are always up against it. Why? Because as organisations they commit to not only creating a sustainable business model, but also providing a social benefit to the surrounding community. While these things often go hand in hand, we often find that while profit and loss is easy to explain, social impact requires a far more qualitative approach.

Fact Totem will be a project that serves independent traders, community groups, charities and local government. We will not be featuring HMV or McDonald’s adverts. We will not hold advertisements for car insurance or where your nearest Tesco can be found. Fact Totem will be a local menu for Sheffield goings on. We want people to walk past the poster cylinders and be amazed by the variety and depth of work produced by local creatives and traders and ultimately to get involved themselves.

Currently we are waiting for an exact date from the council to install the prototype, though we expect this will be around mid-July. We should be visiting the fabricator very soon and have photos of the construction for you all to view at your leisure.

Once again, if any Sheffield-based organisations or local promoters would like to send in their logos for inclusion on our website and on the supporter’s poster, we’d love to hear from you.