Communities rally to the culture cause

By on 23/04/2010 in Blog, Culture

With the Big Culture Blog running from 12 noon today, Jeremy Shields tells us about his work engaging Birmingham communities with the Uk City of Culture bid.

The team behind Birmingham's UK City of Culture bid grows stronger every day as more individuals and organisations across the city get behind the cause.

Of course our arts organisations and figures on the cultural scene are playing a big part as we shape our final bid ahead of next month's deadline.

But we've stressed all along that this is Birmingham's bid and people from all parts of the city - from every community - are feeding into the process.

Earlier this week myself and a colleague, Veronica Coleman, were asked to lead a discussion on community engagement with the Birmingham Association of Neighbourhood Forums.

We've been taking the City of Culture message to communities for the last few weeks now and, as has consistently been the case, the 30 or so people attending this week's event  were supportive and enthusiastic about the opportunities that may open up if we're named the UK's first City of Culture in 2013.

As is always the case when we ask Brummies to get behind their city, they were also hugely supportive and passionate about securing this title.

The ideas discussed included:

Making best use of the unique asset that is Sutton Park
A large number of visitors already enjoy this beautiful park and there must be countless opportunities for cultural activity.

Reflecting the industrial history of Birmingham
From the large-scale production which powered the Victorian age to the refined, exquisite and precious metalwork which shows up so frequently on the highly popular Antiques Road Show on BBC 1, and is exhibited in many museums and collections across the world, together with the local Museum of the Jewellery Quarter. We should celebrate the City of 1000 trades.

Farming and rural life surrounded the city until recently, and the creative work around these topics is very popular. The farm in Sheldon Country Park gives modern generations a real feeling of how this very different kind of life was experienced perhaps by their family member not too long ago. The Canwell Show continues as a genuine country event each August, on the edge of Sutton Coldfield.

Celebrations that bring our communities together
Sunday's Vaisakhi on in Handsworth Park is a great local event, but probably not many of the over 80,000 people attending think of this as a cultural celebration, which it clearly is. The same can be said for this weekend's St George's Day celebrations.

Though many of our events focus on a date or festival that is of significance to a specific community, the events themselves are enjoyed by Brummies of all ethnic, religious and geographical backgrounds.

The St Patrick's Day Parade, Pride, Vaisakhi … I could go on. The point I'm making is that our wonderful annual events bring communities together and really add to the quality of life for the people of Birmingham.

If that's not culture, I don't know what is.

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