Birmingham’s declaration of independence

By on 09/11/2010 in Blog, Culture

Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture Cllr Martin Mullaney celebrates Birmingham’s independent scene.

When asked what makes Birmingham a city of culture it's easy to list the likes of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the CBSO…

That of course only tells part of the story. I'm immensely proud of our high profile venues and organisations but I'm equally proud of the thriving independent scene that makes Birmingham such an exciting city in 2010.

On Saturday (Nov 13) the We Are Birmingham shop will open the doors to its new premises on Dale End. To quote the We Are Birmingham website, this is a shop selling art and crafts created by people in Birmingham and the West Midlands. It is run on a non-profit basis for the benefit of the creative community with the aim of providing a sustainable retail outlet and social space.

If you visited the Created in Birmingham pop-up shop in the Bullring earlier this year, you’ll know what to expect from this exciting initiative and I’ll certainly be popping in.

The We Are Birmingham shop represents the creative flair that made and continue to make Birmingham a great city.

The same can be said for our fantastic independent festivals, which takes me onto Redefining Culture - an eye opening report from the city's Independent Festivals Group.

Published last week, the report highlights the impact of the Flatpack Festival, Fierce Festival, Birmingham Book Festival, Birmingham International Jazz and Blues Festival, Rhubarb-Rhubarb, Supersonic Festival, Bass Festival.

That's quite a line-up, made all the more impressive by the following stats for the festivals from 2007-10.

  • Overall economic activity generated: £5,097,417
  • Number of jobs created for local people: 144
  • Number of volunteers: 544
  • Value of volunteer time: £97,850

Impressive figures but they only tell half the story.

As Leader of Birmingham City Council Mike Whitby says in the report introduction: “Thriving culture doesn't lie solely in the main streets in the big plaza; it's also to be found in former warehouses, in pubs, in clubs, on a rooftop with the city as a backdrop. A great city of culture needs a sense of the future. Is this a place where new knowledge is forged, where new ideas are ignited and encouraged?”

The report underlines the great work being carried out every day in Birmingham by independent artists and organisations - work that complements and very often builds on the work of our major arts organisations.

It really is an impressive document from and impressive group of people.

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