You’d be forgiven for overlooking Birmingham as a centre for arts and culture – after all, we’re not ones to shout about ourselves. But just take a stroll through the Jewellery Quarter, wander round the Ikon Gallery in Brindley Place or spend an afternoon at the Custard Factory and you might just sit up and take notice. Creativity and innovation is everywhere in this city.
Birmingham invests heavily in its arts and culture. We’re home to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Shakespeare Company and Birmingham Royal Ballet and the region’s great galleries – the Barber Institute and the Ikon Gallery – to name but a few. We also boast impressive venues that include the world acclaimed Symphony Hall, the Hippodrome Theatre and The Drum, one of the UK’s biggest African, Asian and Caribbean arts centres.
Birmingham is the most culturally diverse city in the UK and our people take pride in that. Our diversity and inclusivity is our strength and this is reflected in everything we do, especially the arts.
Thanks to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, now the world is witnessing the wonder of Brum and its unique culture. In the lead up to the Games came the launch of the Birmingham 2022 Festival, a six-month long cultural programme taking place across the region. It is the biggest celebration of creativity ever seen in the region and one of the largest ever cultural programmes to surround the Commonwealth Games.
With over 200 events taking place between March and September, the festival firmly puts our city on a global stage and showcases the creativity, ambition, heritage and diversity we’re proud to call our own.
From the ‘Masks of the Commonwealth’ exhibition by local artist Ken Banks celebrating the 72 nations and territories, to Northfield community’s ‘Talking Benches’ aiming to inspire positive conversations about cultural identity and heritage, the city is alive with art showcasing the very best of Brum.
Earlier this week I wandered into the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to see ‘Found City, Lost Objects: Women in the City’, curated by renowned British artist Lubaina Himid. A truly thought-provoking display of works addressing all too familiar themes from safety and navigation in cities, to concepts of belonging and power, the exhibition encourages you to see the city through a woman’s eyes. A highly recommended visit if you’re nearby.
Still not convinced on the magic of Brum? Why not visit some of the hundreds of events and exhibitions taking place across the city during the Games and see for yourself?