BBC backs Birmingham’s Creative City initiative

City Council Leader Mike Whitby today hailed an agreement with BBC Director General Mark Thompson as ‘a clear indication of the BBC’s commitment to a sustainable future in Birmingham’.

The city could soon be a ‘science lab’ for BBC digital innovation after Mark Thompson signed the corporation up to the ‘Creative City’ initiative.

Following talks with Cllr Whitby, the BBC is backing the groundbreaking project, which puts creative industries at the heart of the Birmingham’s economic regeneration.

Under today’s agreement, the BBC has agreed to:

  • Pilot an apprenticeship scheme, linked to targeted worklessness programmes, in conjunction with the creative and cultural sector and education providers.
  • Develop a senior management skills sharing programme.
  • Work with small and medium sized enterprises in the city’s digital media sector and its specialist university research functions, to develop future technologies and digital content and to pilot new digital approaches in Birmingham.
  • Work across the Corporation, including its research and development and training functions to support the development and testing of new content from Birmingham content producers.
  • Open up access for Birmingham based production companies through Meet the Commissioner events.
  • Digitise and release more Birmingham-related digital archives for the opening of the Library of Birmingham.

Cllr Whitby said: “I am pleased that our ongoing dialogue with the BBC continues to point in a very positive direction. Clearly the BBC is a powerful institution nationally, and internationally, as is the city of Birmingham – and it’s only sensible that we align our aspirations.

“The Creative City initiative was launched to open up new opportunities for our creative businesses, so to secure BBC support is a significant development.

“I’m confident my talks with Mark Thompson will provide a firm foundation for co-operation and I look forward to continuing a productive dialogue with the BBC about future projects and opportunities.

“The creative sector is critical to our economy and its future success will be critical to providing much needed work for local people, as well as making Birmingham an exciting place to live, work and visit.

“The Creative City partnership brings a unique range of resources to the table and offers us the chance to consolidate Birmingham’s reputation as a national centre of digital innovation and creative development.”

Mark Thompson added: “I am delighted that the BBC will be joining with the City of Birmingham and the Local Enterprise Partnership to create a partnership involving the City’s creative industries. In these economically testing times, and particularly at this moment in the digital story, working together in successful partnerships is critical to all of our futures.”

Launched by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in October 2011, the Creative City initiative aims to:

  • Create a fund to build on existing public sector funding of the arts through loans, grants, match-funding and investments. The allocation of funds will be based on the potential for job creation and economic growth.
  • Explore ways to unlock private sector and philanthropic support for culture, linking cultural development to wider economic growth.

Following today’s agreement, Creative City partners, including Arts Council England, Birmingham City University, Marketing Birmingham, University of Birmingham and representatives of the independent sector, will now finalise a Memorandum of Understanding setting out plans to work together on new activities to stimulate the sector, support skills development and encourage the research and development of new platforms and content.

Ends

For more information contact Geoff Coleman on 0121 303 3501

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