Library of Birmingham & British Library win lottery grant for South Asian project

The Library of Birmingham and the British Library win Heritage Lottery Fund support to stage a major exhibition and public programme celebrating South Asian culture.

Cllr Ian Ward

Cllr Ian Ward

Today (23 January 2017), the Library of Birmingham and the British Library have received £91,700 of National Lottery funding to present Documenting Histories, a partnership project celebrating the important role South Asian culture has played in forming Birmingham’s history and identity.

At the heart of the project is a major exhibition which will open in July, drawing on both libraries’ rich collections, supported by a programme of complementary events and workshops during 2017. This will explore Britain’s South Asian heritage, examining the contribution made by South Asian people to Birmingham and the UK, and featuring contributions from local communities as they are invited to share their stories in their own words.

Cllr Ian Ward, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, said:  “Our city’s greatest strength is the energy, creativity and diversity of its people and this year, in particular, presents a great opportunity to celebrate the contribution of South Asian culture to Birmingham’s past, present and future.

“Thanks to the substantial investment made by the Heritage Lottery Fund, we are looking forward to continuing the Library of Birmingham’s partnership with the British Library.

“Combining regional and national archive collections for the first time, the exhibition – which will open later this year – promises to bring local people’s stories to life and reveal the fascinating history of Birmingham’s South Asian heritage. With its focus on involving citizens and communities throughout the city, it’s especially significant that this new partnership will invite people from all over Birmingham to tell and share their own stories.”

This year marks an important milestone in South Asian history and activities will be taking place in Birmingham and across the country to mark the UK’s longstanding cultural ties with the Indian subcontinent.

In 2017, Birmingham will be celebrating Utsav, Year of South Asian Culture and the contribution those communities have made to the city.  Utsav, meaning festival/celebration, was officially launched on 18 January and will feature a wide variety of professional and community events and activities throughout the year.

For more information about this project, please visit the Library of Birmingham website.


Notes to editors

For further information, images and interviews, please contact:

Stephanie Knox, Head of Media Relations, at The British Library, on 0207 412 7790 or


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