The united face of Birmingham

By on 14/09/2009 in Blog

sharon-leaSharon Lea, Strategic Director of Environment and Culture, reflects on how this weekend's ArtsFest was once again a celebration of Birmingham diversity.

Two weekends and two very different views of our city.

But make no mistake, we saw the real Birmingham this weekend as people and communities from across the city came together for a celebration of our diversity and culture.

Coming a week after the violent scenes that accompanied city centre protests, ArtsFest 2009 was about more than just culture and art. It was a display of unity as over 270,000 people from every community in our wonderfully diverse city came together to enjoy themselves.

Now I'm not naïve and I'm certainly not looking to gloss over last weekend's events. But which weekend do you believe best represents Birmingham?

This weekend was not about conflict it was about unity as people of every age, race, colour, creed and sexuality simply got on with the business of having fun in the sun.

We had everything from street art to opera, cutting edge theatre installations to Bhangra dance and plenty in between as the festival offered audiences a wealth of amazing opportunities to enjoy a huge range of artistic experiences for free.

There were too many highlights to mention everything but the dance marquee was particularly popular, with Latin, Irish and Bollywood dancing. Congratulations must go to the people who danced Birmingham into the record books, setting a new Bhangra world record.
ArtsFest is about bringing established artists to the city and giving a platform to emerging artists and the thriving grassroots here in Birmingham. I think we did just that this weekend and it was the sort of occasion that makes me proud of this city.

There was lots of coverage last week about the race to be UK City of Culture in 2013 and I was asked on more than one occasion whether I believe Birmingham has a vibrant enough cultural offer to be in the frame for that title.

A decision has yet to be made about lodging a formal bid but if we do go for the title, I believe ArtsFest 2009 clearly illustrated we can unite as a truly creative city behind art and culture.

Click on the link below for images from ArtsFest 2009


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