Celebrating Birmingham’s Arts Champions

By on 03/11/2010 in Culture, News

Date: Saturday November 6
Time: 12-4pm
Location: Birmingham Town Hall
Details: Lord Mayor of Birmingham Cllr Len Gregory is the guest of honour at a celebration and showcase of Birmingham City Council’s Arts Champions Scheme.

A groundbreaking scheme linking major arts organisations with communities across Birmingham will be celebrated at a special showcase on Saturday November 6.

The event will bring together participants from Birmingham City Council's Arts Champions Scheme for a series of workshops, exhibitions, films and performances.

And Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture Cllr Martin Mullaney believes the scheme underlines the importance of making art and culture more accessible to the people of Birmingham.

Launched in 2004, the Arts Champions Scheme is part of the Culture on Your Doorstep initiative and pairs each of the city's ten constituencies with major arts organisations.

In all 13 thirteen of the city's most prominent arts organisations participate in the project: Birmingham Royal Ballet, CBSO Birmingham Repertory Theatre, mac, Birmingham Opera Company, Ikon, BCMG, Ex Cathedra, DanceXchange, Sampad, Birmingham Hippodrome, THSH and The Drum.

The Arts Champions scheme has resulted in a number of collaborations including:

  • Northfield
    The Rep has been successful in promoting and offering Northfield Nights for a number of seasons. The Rep is currently establishing a junior youth theatre for Northfield Constituency in partnership with Extended Schools provision.
  • Sutton Coldfield
    Ex Cathedra aims to bring people from Sutton Coldfield, and specifically Mere Green, Brampton Hall and Falcon Lodge together to enjoy singing.  Following on from the successes of our previous champions work in Sutton Coldfield Ex Cathedra have recently specifically focused on male members of the community.
  • Erdington
    Ikon has worked in partnership with the John Taylor Hospice commissioning a photographer to research and respond to Sir Benjamin Stone's photographic collection.

Cllr Mullaney said: “This showcase will celebrate the achievements of a fantastic project that underlines how art and culture can have a positive impact on people across the whole city.

“Hundreds residents who otherwise might never have had the opportunities have experienced everything from theatre to ballet and opera.

“The arts enrich all our lives and help make Birmingham the great city it is. The Arts Champions scheme has underlined the importance of culture to communities across the city.”

Saturday's showcase will bring the major arts organisations (Arts Champions) and constituency representatives together for the first time to celebrate the achievements of the Arts Champions Scheme.

The event will also offer opportunities to share progress and achievements as well as take part in workshops, presentations and discussions concerning barriers and issues around arts development.


Notes to Editors

Image available here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/birminghamnewsroom/sets/72157625304459118/

Over the past six years the Arts Champions scheme has developed a body of work in the community which can be reflected through case studies, best practice and knowledge sharing with a view to strengthening the case for arts investment locally.

Culture on Your Doorstep is a key pillar of the City's Cultural Strategy and the
National Indicator for Engagement in the Arts, requiring sustained investment in arts delivery at a local level. The Arts Champions Scheme has been very successful, with each of the major arts organisations working in partnership with one of the city's constituencies to deliver activities and strategic support attract people new to the Arts, increase participation and access to city centre resources by:

  • Improving cultural infrastructure to ensure that residents have access to high quality cultural opportunities in their neighbourhoods
  • Inventing new ways of connecting city-centre based resources (museum collections, archives, arts venues etc) to local neighbourhoods, which make our cultural assets more accessible
  • Developing ways to communicate the range of cultural opportunities in local neighbourhoods

Additional quotes

“For the past five years, Ikon has been Arts Champion for Erdington, an incredible experience which is a privilege and a source of great pride. Our work with professional organisations, community groups and schools has presented many opportunities for residents to engage in high quality exhibitions and creative activities. As a result of this work we have developed strong relationships within the constituency that we are confident will continue through the coming years.” James Cangiano, Curator of Learning

“Working with the CBSO and Sampad has opened our eyes to a whole new world of music and art… It’s been wonderful to share our cultural tradition of Gujarat stick dance with the children at St Ambrose and to be accompanied by the professional musicians” Ranju Nathwani (Hindu Women’s Network)

“I really enjoyed the workshops and trying out new styles of dance throughout the week.” Participant, Selly Oak Dance Camp with Birmingham Royal Ballet

“Wonderful, fantastic, brilliant and more more more. A great way to bring the community together.” Yardley Audience Member


The Arts Champions Scheme model was initiated six years ago with the aim to enable Birmingham residents to get closer to the city’s world-class arts offerings.

Birmingham's major Arts organisations (the Arts Champions) were successfully matched with the city's constituencies, ensuring that resources invested in the city's flagship arts organisations are used to benefit local communities as well as city centre attendees and visitors.

In all, thirteen arts organisations are part of the Champions programme. The Council funds twelve major arts organisations. The thirteenth Champion is Birmingham Hippodrome which is not revenue funded by Birmingham City Council but is considered a vital contributor to the cultural infrastructure in the City.

The major arts organisations will form new champions partnerships to take effect from April 2011, allowing 2010/11 as a year of legacy planning for current relationships and handover for the new champions.

Although the Arts Champions Scheme has existed at a local level for a number of years the partners have always felt that this scheme would benefit from an increased public profile. The showcasing of work (particularly participatory) is highlighted as an important element for the city and the partners involved within the scheme (Arts Section, Arts Organisations, Constituencies).

Previously the Arts Section has hosted networking events for shared practice and knowledge. Through independent evaluation of the scheme there is call for this networking opportunity to become part of a profiled showcase event.

In both of its partnerships (Ladywood & Edgbaston) THSH has utilised the Town Hall to showcase the culmination of project work or to help communicate a constituency's Arts offer through an 'arts market'. In the interim period of the scheme's development this model has been identified as the basis for a public celebratory Arts Champions showcase (market).

Our aims for the Arts Champions Scheme Showcase are:

  • To celebrate the achievements of the Arts Champions Scheme as an innovative model for connecting city-centre based resources to local neighbourhoods.
  • To raise awareness of Birmingham's cultural infrastructure to ensure all residents have access to good quality and relevant cultural opportunities in their neighbourhood.
  • To share good practice and provide inspiration to build on actual models of participation.
  • To provide a forum to stimulate discussion and debate barriers to participation and issues around arts development.
  • To communicate the range of world class cultural institutions opportunities for cultural participation at neighbourhood level.
  • To promote the membership of Friends groups and constituency networks, culturally based social enterprises, and volunteering at cultural events.
  • To bring local people together to share and experience cultural activities.
  • To encourage further collaborations between Birmingham city council particularly constituencies, the city's arts sector and community groups/organisations locally and regionally.

For more information contact Geoff Coleman on 0121 303 3501

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