Page 1

Culture Guide Birmingham



21 06 14 05 19 12



map reFerence 01. Alexandra Theatre 02. The Basement 03. Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery 04. The Crescent Theatre 05. Custard Factory 06. Eastside Projects 07. The Edge 08. Electric Cinema 09. The Flapper 10. Ikon Eastside 11. Ikon Gallery 12. The Hippodrome 13. The Jam House 14. The Mixing Bowl Theatre 15. The O2 Academy 16. The Old Joint Stock 17. The Rainbow 18. The Rep 19. Rhubarb East Gallery 20. Stan’s Cafe 21. Sunflower Lounge 22. Town Hall 23. The Vaults 24. The Victoria i. Visitor Centre Rotunda i. Visitor Centre New Street


area culture guide birmingham is brought to you by: editors: David O’Coy & Kerry Thomas Writers: Stephanie Andrews, Rebecca Checkley, Annabel Clarke, Rebekah Douglas, Lee Hall, Emma Kellher, Liz MacArthur, Alan Mahar, Luke McNaney, Kimberley Owen, Amelia Phillips, Matt Price, Kate Pritchard, Alexandra Rochester, Adam Smith photographers: Steve Gerrard, Paul Green, Martin Pickard illustrators: Newtasty, Smile, Hayley Warnham, Francesca Bunny Williams

AREA Culture Guide, 315 The Greenhouse, Gibb Square, Gibb Street, Birmingham, B9 4AA tel: 0121 246 1946

DISCLAIMER Reproduction of all editorial/images in any form is strictly prohibited without prior permission. We cannot be held responsible for breach of copyright arising from any material supplied. While we aim to make sure all listings are correct we can not be held responsible for any incorrect entries. Readers should check venues before arrival. Views expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily the publishers. This is a Fused Publication © Fused 2010 © Area Culture Guide 2010 produced on behalf of Visit Birmingham.


A pocket Culture Guide to Birmingham Welcome to the Area Culture Guide to Birmingham where we focus on the amazing cultural offer of this city. From its world class, multi-awardwinning organisations through to the smaller underground events that only the locals are privy to, we have compiled a pocket compendium that will offer a preview of events happening in 2010 and 2011. Whether your passion lies in classical music, ballet, live music, experimental theatre or cutting edge visual arts our guide will help steer you to the best Birmingham has to offer in the forthcoming 12 months.


This year alone Birmingham has been shortlisted for the first UK City of Culture, has announced plans for a major new international Library and sees several milestone anniversaries for its cultural organisations. 2010 offers a stack of international sporting events, a shopping offer that will give seasoned fashionistas something to drool over and a wealth of events for culture vultures, music lovers and art junkies. We hope you enjoy your visit!

Image: Martin Pickard



VISUAL ARTS Birmingham has established itself as a leading centre for the visual arts. Following Ikon Gallery’s move to a renovated, neo-gothic, former school in Brindleyplace in the 1990s, Birmingham’s reputation for contemporary art has soared, with Ikon still at the forefront with its internationally respected programme of exhibitions, events and off-site projects. Ikon has expanded to include a second venue in the Eastside district of the city centre – an area undergoing considerable regeneration and in which the visual arts play a key role. One of Ikon Eastside’s neighbours is Eastside Projects, an ambitious gallery that commissions and presents experimental contemporary art. Somewhere between a laboratory, an artist-led space and an avant-garde think tank, Eastside Projects has one of the most engaging programmes around and its group shows are among the most challenging in the city. A few metres away is VIVID, Birmingham’s leading media arts organisation, offering 06

commissions, exhibitions and residencies to artists and curators from around the world. Also in the Eastside district, based in the Custard Factory (one of the liveliest complexes for artist studios and creative businesses in Birmingham) is Rhubarb Rhubarb, the celebrated development agency for photographic artists working with traditional and new technologies. As well as working behind the scenes to support practitioners, Rhubarb Rhubarb organises festivals and exhibitions that are open to the public. Photographic exhibitions are also presented by Three White Walls, a gallery based in The Mailbox. Elsewhere in the Custard Factory is Capsule, revered for their programme of experimental and alternative music, organising exhibitions, projects and film screenings that regularly cross over into the city’s visual art scene. 7 Inch Cinema is another impressive agency, devoted

its adjacent Gas Hall and Water Hall often present temporary and contemporary exhibitions. And if that’s not enough, other arts venues of interest include the RBSA in the Jewellery Quarter and The Drum in Newtown.

primarily to film, which makes exciting contributions to the visual arts, particularly through its popular Flatpack Festival. The mixing together of music, film and art is something at which Birmingham excels, as are arts festivals, including Fierce, The Event, Brilliantly Birmingham, New Generation Arts, Art of Ideas, Artsfest and Rhubarb International Festival of the Image. Birmingham’s vibrant artist-led community includes exhibitions and events by Trove, Grand Union, Crowd 6, A.A.S., the Springhill Institute and [Insertspace], all of whom are active in the city centre, not to mention Friction Arts’ roving programme.

For more information about visual arts in the city go to

Image: Paul Green

No visual arts tour of the city centre would be complete without a visit to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. In addition to its permanent collections, BMAG and

Beyond the city centre, it’s worth visiting IPS, the International Project Space at Birmingham City University’s Bournville site, whose exhibitions are consistently inspiring. Nearby is the University of Birmingham’s Barber Institute, which presents small exhibitions of contemporary art alongside its extensive historical collections. And last but not least, the recently renovated mac (Midlands Arts Centre) situated in Cannon Hill Park has a busy programme of exhibitions along with many other activities. For fans of visual art, Birmingham is certainly a city with plenty to offer. MP



Punch From humble beginnings selling vinyl in a record shop Punch has diversified into a formidable arts organisation. Although the record store is no more, the music lives on in everything that Punch promotes, whether through art exhibitions or the annual BASS festival there is always a connection to sound. Positioning Black and Asian arts at the forefront of their work the team behind Punch are dedicated to the delivery of high quality events and this year is no exception. BASS Festival (British Arts and Street Sounds) is the UK’s only month-long celebration of Black Music and Art, and it returns this June for a celebration of urban music and culture. 08

Taking place for the fifth consecutive year, the festival will see a range of music and arts events in venues across Birmingham. Desert Boy 10 – 11 June, Birmingham REP An acapella musical with storytelling and song, woven seamlessly together into an epic musical drama. Rudi & Smash Bro’z (pictured) 25 June, mac A double bill of work from US based artist and dancer Rudi and Birmingham based hip hop dance collective Smash Bro’z. Find out more about Punch and the BASS festival at

Image: The Jackson Twins

Rhubarb Rhubarb Rhubarb Rhubarb celebrate the opening of their new gallery Rhubarb East in Birmingham’s Eastside that aims to profile the successes of the Rhubarb programme. Exhibiting the work of some of the world’s most interesting imagemakers the first show at the gallery, The Uses of Enchantment, brings together The Jackson Twins from the West Midlands, with Vee Speers from Paris. Speers’ work is collected by museums and individuals throughout the world, including Elton John, while The Jackson Twins are one of the recent examples of Rhubarb’s continued championing of new talent.

photographic artists, launched the world premiere of Obama’s People. The set of photographic images taken by Nadav Kander of President Obama and his administration was turned in to a full-scale exhibition at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery attracting over 100,000 visitors. The exhibition saw the start of a bumper 12 months for the agency. Along with the International Photography Festival, Rhubarb recently opened a new space in Mile End, London, where it is running sell-out events for artists and has embarked on an ambitious project with Hungarian artist, Adam Magyar, for the Olympic fence.

In 2009, this renowned Birminghambased development agency for 09


BIRMINGHAM MUSEUM & ART GALLERY Alongside playing host to one of the most important archaeological discoveries of recent times, The Staffordshire Hoard, The Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is home to one of the largest collections of Pre-Raphaelite works in the world, as well as Old Masters and Impressionists. The building, situated on Chamberlain Square, contains over forty galleries and two exhibition spaces. Guided tours and workshops to suit all states of artistic consciousness can be booked to help you through the 010

space. 2010/11 promises a wealth of impressive exhibitions. Bridget Riley: Flashback Until 23 May 2010 Waterhall Gallery Admission Free Celebrating Riley’s distinctive optical paintings this exhibition is the first in a new series of solo artist’s exhibitions from the Arts Council Collection. On show, for the first time ever, are 30 works on from the artist’s own collection.

Steve McCurry – Retrospective 26 June - 17 October 2010 Waterhall Gallery Admission Free Multi-award winning, American photo-journalist Steve McCurry will be exhibiting a retrospective of his work including amazing coverage of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s, when he crossed the border disguised as a local with rolls of film sewn into his clothes. Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery will be the sole UK venue to host Steve McCurry’s exhibition. New Art Now 13 November - 13 February 2011 Waterhall Gallery Admission free Along with partners New Art Gallery Walsall and Ikon Gallery, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery has been busy creating a major collection of international contemporary art which it will display during New Art Now. The newly acquired works by artists from India, China, Africa, and Western Europe include painting, photography, and video installations exploring the theme of the ‘modern metropolis’ the social and physical landscapes of city life. EK For information about Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery go to

THE DRUM The Drum is dedicated to developing and promoting contemporary art and culture of British African, Asian and Caribbean communities. While bringing an artistic programme of national and internationally renowned spoken word, dance, comedy, theatre and music the venue is also firmly rooted within the local community, continually involving people within its activity. The venue’s first Simmer Down International Reggae Festival takes place on Saturday 17 July at Handsworth Park (12-6pm) and The Drum (9pm-4am). Local Bob Marley tribute act The Legend will headline a free afternoon event alongside a stellar line-up of the city’s favourite reggae and world music artists – plus arts workshops, community information stalls, a participatory dance event and a Jerk cook-out contest. In the evening Simmer Down moves to The Drum, with a major international line-up in the main auditorium, a second room themed around the history and music of Jamaica’s famous Studio 1, plus food and entertainment downstairs. Lectures, film screenings and theatre productions celebrating Birmingham’s rich multicultural heritage of reggae music will take place at The Drum and other partner venues during the same week. In October the venue will celebrate Black History Month with The African Vibes Festival. 011


ART IN BARS Like something to look at when you’re out drinking? Then look no further than the art-littered walls of some of Birmingham’s best bars.


The Vaults A lavish bar with historic walls that are almost as good as the art placed on them. The ARC project is its monthly art event where the last Wednesday of every month sees a guest curator organising a display of work. Be delighted and surprised with the range of visual and sound displays that fill the old workhouse’s Victorian catacombs. Urban Art Bars - The Lord Clifden The Lord Clifden and its sister pub The Red Lion are ‘Urban Art Bars’. Located in and around the Jewellery Quarter they are full of fantastic contemporary urban artwork. Boasting limited edition prints from graffiti artists like Banksy and Dolk, to local street artist Army Lion who plays with diverse tools and techniques; even using vinyl records for canvases. These pubs are tucked away and may take on the guise of an old fashioned boozer but the landlord definitely thinks pub art is more than just a prize shot of the local shire horse. The Victoria (pictured) This old theatre lovies hangout was taken over by the enterprising owner of the Island Rock’n’Roll Cocktail bar Matt Scriven and given and fresh new lease of life. Sitting conveniently behind the Alexandra Theatre its walls are covered in the distinctive brightly-coloured stylings of James Bourne and the Them Lot arts collective – a group of young artists that formed a few

years ago. Bourne’s work can also be seen in Island Bar’s Tiki Lounge (just around the corner from The Victoria). However Island offers up more than looking at art – monthly events mean you can do art. Each month is a ‘Crafty Beer’ – the social meet up centred on all things craft – and ‘Dr Sketchy’s’ which hosts Burlesque life drawing. The Basement When the amount of shoppers hitting the city centre gets too much don’t be scared to take a load off and discover what lies behind the red door of this underground bar. Modelled on the hipster hangouts of Lower Eastside, NYC Basement if bereft of windows to gaze out of so owner Amy commissioned the talents of illustrator Newtasty to adorn the space. As one of Birmingham’s highly regarded talents - the appeal of his work is so strong that even his club night posters get swiped! Amy has made sure this work is firmly attached to the walls for your viewing pleasure. Outside the city centre there are plenty of bars that display local art on their equally ornate walls. The Prince of Wales in Moseley often adorns itself with local photography and the Hare and Hounds, Kings Heath, delights in showcasing local artists in Untitled where talented creatives snuggle up with the bar’s live gig events for a real cultural night out. RC





Director - Ikon Gallery


Jonathan Watkins has celebrated ten years at the helm of Ikon. He masterminded the opening of Ikon Eastside, an offshoot of the Brindleyplace gallery in Birmingham’s Digbeth region, and is leading the movement towards a permanent Museum of Contemporary Art for the city. Here he shares his passion. What is the best cultural event you have seen in the city? How could it be anywhere but Ikon? There is so much to choose from. During a recent exhibition of paintings by Russian artist Semyon Faibosovich we hosted a concert by the brilliant singer-songwriter Laura Marling. The combination of poignant imagery and music was unforgettable. What is your favourite piece of work by a Birmingham-based artist? Tom and Simon Bloor, artist twins from Birmingham, have wonderful imaginations. Their narrow boat, decorated with bright dazzle camouflage, that cruised around the local canals last summer made everyone stop and look. Where do you go for a special meal? My favourite restaurant in Birmingham, that is not Café Ikon, is La Fibule in Moseley (29 Woodbridge Road). It’s Moroccan, with a waitress from Thailand. They do something with lamb and mint that is delicious.

What’s Birmingham’s best kept secret? Birmingham is a city full of secrets and I am reluctant to reveal them of course because it will then be overrun with tourists. Moseley Park (Alcester Road, Moseley) is an exception. It is sometimes open for events such as the Moseley Folk Festival but otherwise you have to be a key holder to get in. Where do you take friends when they visit the city? It would be professionally negligent of me not to take them to Ikon. From there I often lead a kind of ramble along the canal to the Jewellery Quarter, taking in Hockley Cemetery. Interestingly, you can find there a memorial to someone who went down with the Titanic. Which traits make Birmingham unique? Birmingham is still remarkably ‘undone’. There is a great opportunity for visionary regeneration. What do you love about the city? Birmingham’s location is a great asset. It is increasingly close to London whilst at the same time having its own distinct character largely shaped by its industrial past and multicultural present. It is not too big and not too small, full of opportunities. Just right. Discover what Ikon Gallery will be exhibiting at 015


Big City Culture Birmingham has been short-listed to become the first UK City of Culture in 2013. This is the first time a city will be awarded this title and we are thrilled that our big city with its big heart is one of the four shortlisted. As part of Birmingham’s bid the city wanted to hear ideas from its residents. The bid organisers, Birmingham Cultural Partnership, worked together with art organisation Fierce, to capture their ideas. Hundreds of ideas poured in from local residents, whose suggestions have included live music events in local communities, jazz music piped into the city’s buses and famous films which have been filmed in Birmingham to be celebrated through a series of city-wide screenings. Following the suggestions, the people of Birmingham are given the chance to vote on their favourite and the most popular will be put forward as official proposals as part of Birmingham’s bid to be the UK City of Culture in 2013. Hoping to show off Birmingham’s huge cultural variety, diverse population and relevance to 016

a global society the proposed ideas will be considered in the aim to move Birmingham into the spotlight. Birmingham has already had many regeneration projects undertaken in recent years. The much-reported Anglo Saxon hoard acquisition is already seen as an attempt to maintain and integrate Birmingham’s heritage into accessible spaces. The new Library of Birmingham will also coordinate with the cultural capital award in 2013 helping to create cultural learning spaces for the community. Birmingham has already proposed a series of events for the UK City of Culture 2013, which include an Autumn Arts Festival, a programme of events for every neighbourhood in the city, the chance for young people to run Birmingham’s cultural institutions for a week and the creation of a new exhibition space. For information about Birmingham City of Culture go to

Dance fever has hit the UK over the last few years. You can’t turn on the TV without seeing a dance-related series and it seems audiences are hungry for them as they gain top ratings each week. Of course there is nothing quite like seeing the real thing so it’s perfect timing for this year’s International Dance Festival Birmingham where you can really get up close to the performances. The four-week extravaganza takes place from 19 April to 15 May and sees venues become hives of dancing activity with pieces crossing over all genres from classic to contemporary. The event had huge success in 2008 and this year it is even bigger with over 25 companies representing 20 countries from all over the world to give over 70 performances for audiences to enjoy.

Image:Hugo Glendinning


Produced by DanceXchange and Birmingham Hippodrome the range of pieces at the festival won’t shy away from politically charged subjects like the Rosie Kay Dance Company’s 5 Soldiers (23 & 24 April, The Patrick Centre, Birmingham Hippodrome) and Maqamat Dance Theatre’s The Assassination of Omar Rajeh (30 April, The Patrick Centre, Birmingham Hippodrome), which both focus on issues surrounding war. This year’s amazing opening performance is of ‘L’allegro, il penseroso ed il Moderato’ by the Mark Morris Dance Group, which will see 24 dancers perform alongside the orchestra of the English National Opera. For further information about dance go to 017


MAC/SAMPAD For visitors to Birmingham’s beautiful Cannon Hill Park an integral part of the landscape has been out of bounds for some time. For the past two years the 1960’s structure that houses mac has been hidden away while undergoing a huge £15m expansion and refurbishment programme. This summer the much-anticipated mac and Sampad building project reopens. The impressive art centre will include beautiful new gallery and theatre spaces, and performing art studios. 018

Founded in 1990, Sampad has become a leading cultural organisation highlighting South Asian arts within mainstream culture both in Birmingham, and across the UK. Promoting the appreciation and the practise of art forms originating from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, Sampad has turned an annual festival into a year round program, using large scale productions, intimate poetry sessions and participant activities to express the diversity of South Asian arts. 2010 marks the organisation’s 20th anniversary, and to celebrate a special exhibition is being held at mac. Taking you on a journey of the last two decades told through the eyes of artists, audiences and communities that Sampad has worked with, the exhibition will encompass story telling, dance and poetry workshops along with performances throughout the summer.

As the most visited arts centre in the Midlands, with more than 500,000 visitors a year, the space has been brought firmly up-to-date and the arts organisation helping to lead this new era in mac’s life is Sampad.

The mixture of family and evening events that are set to go ahead as part of mac’s fun packed summer programme involve something for everyone and offers, a much welcome return to Birmingham’s cultural landscape. Learn more about what mac and Sampad have planned for the re-opening at visitbirmingham. com/area 019


Birmingham Royal Ballet 2010 hails the 20th anniversary of Birmingham Royal Ballet. The company’s home in Birmingham’s Hippodrome Theatre has its own studios and stages along with an orchestra and dance injury prevention centre. Having recently celebrated the anniversary with a gala of their most celebrated productions, Artistic Director, David Bintley explained that the event was their way of telling, “the story of the whole company, not just the people who appear on stage”. They had so many notable performances to choose from but were sure that Ballet Hoo! must be included for the moving opportunity ballet gave to Youths at Risk. The 20th anniversary milestone is also a celebratory year for the company’s resident talents with David Bintley winning The South Bank Show’s Dance Prize for his Einstein inspired E=mc2 on which he commented, “This award celebrates the company’s creative collaborations, the talent of the dancers and highlights my commitment to producing new work.“ The new work he speaks of starts in September 2010; opening their season is a triple bill named Pointes of View that consists of three complementary ballets 020

by some of the world’s leading choreographers. Concerto is one of Kenneth Macmillan’s most popular works of energy and virtuosity, The Lady and the Fool is John Cranko’s unsentimental but deeply passionate dance and In the Upper Room American choreographer Twyla Tharp brings striking red pointe shoes and dancers in trainers to the stage with energy and flair. Classic tales are told from the 29 September with Macmillian’s Romeo and Juliet, which was first performed by the company back in 1992 to David Bintley’s new production of Cinderella which will have its world premiere at the Birmingham Hippodrome on the 24 November. To close the 2010-2011 season, the double bill is that of Allegri diversi which features dance phrases that freeze into unpredictable poses and impossible highs and David Bintley’s large scale production of Carmina Burana. With twenty years of success in the city, the Birmingham Royal Ballet shows no sign of slowing down in its drive for talent, world class performance and a program that makes Birmingham very happy they belong here. AR Don’t miss the chance to see the company perform go to



Theatre in Birmingham The big, the Small and the Inbetween

Birmingham is a haven for theatregoers. With a multitude of venues offering a plethora of performances to quench even the most avid theatre patron’s thirst. Alexandra Theatre Offering some of the best in mainstream theatre and entertainment; the forthcoming year presents Fame: The Musical (25-28 August) and Spamalot (7 December - 1 January). Along the way the Alexandra also plays host to a variety of alternative shows to tickle all fancies from comedy acts and mediums to the best touring musicals. The Crescent Theatre One of Birmingham’s oldest theatre companies The Crescent plays host to award-winning and 022

acclaimed theatre while promoting and showcasing the very best in upcoming talent. In the months ahead the theatre will present Acorn Antiques The Musical (22 - 29 May) and Bollywood Dreams (31 July - 1 August). The Mixing Bowl Theatre Currently in residence at The Mixing Bowl theatre, The Rogue Play Theatre company is the new kid on the block in the theatre scene. The company’s focus is on combining new writing, physical theatre and improvisation to bring you the best cutting edge experience. The Hippodrome With over 500,000 visitors to this famous venue each year, the Hippodrome truly embodies the

theme of variety. Offering a fine mixture of comedy, performance theatre, musicals and dance on an epic scale. In the coming year it will play host to The Harder They Come (25 - 29 May) the exquisite Swan Lake (23 - 26 June) and to Blood Brothers (11 - 23 October). The Old Joint Stock Theatre Two great words strung together ‘theatre and pub’ the Old Joint Stock brings to the public a blissful amalgamation of the two concepts in one intimate venue. Joining together bohemian living with bourgeois entertainment, the bar offers a laidback theatre event in a quaint environment. Each month the venue also hosts free Jazz nights in the bar.

The Rep Finally, what would a Birmingham theatre guide be without The Rep which has graced this city since 1913. In its long history it has supported and nurtured talent and continues in this capacity, showcasing national tours one night and lesser known artists the next. With powerful theatre being its bread and butter, in the months to follow The Rep will roll out Sus (25 – 29 May) - a powerful cry against international racism and Jules Verne’s iconic 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (22 – 24 July), proving that in the realm of theatre things just get better with age. LH For comprehensive what’s on listings:



STAN’s cafe

AE Harris, Jewellery Quarter 2010 is a busy year for Stan’s Cafe. In autumn their production, Of All the People In All the World will have its Asian premiere in Japan, with further presentations taking  place in North America and finally more shows in the UK. Home of the  Wriggler, a ‘lo-fi sci-fi docu-drama’ sees the cast power the sound  and light to tell the entangled and fractured story of Birmingham’s car industry in the unique way only a company such as Stan’s can. When James Yarker and Graeme Rose looked for somewhere to base their new theatre company they sought a place that bulged with creative prospects and would embrace their new brand of theatre. They soon identified Birmingham as such a place. “Neither of us knew of any other companies resembling the one we wanted to form,” says James. “We fancied being big fish in what seemed a big pond”. “When James and Graeme first came to Birmingham the scene was just starting to develop”, comments General Manager, Charlotte Martin on the early stages of the fledgling company. “I think what we have done  is shown that smaller companies can be successful, and often have more artistic integrity.” 024

It is this kind of attitude that helps Stan’s Cafe really stand out. By continually pushing boundaries and working on cutting-edge experimental pieces the group are able to break down barriers. Taking over a disused section of the AE Harris Factory in the Jewellery Quarter,  the company secured the huge blank canvas they needed to perform  more of their works.

which is a brand new international theatre festival and will be massive for our scene. For us Birmingham is a  great place to be based. It has so much culture and diversity and the  artistic scene is really vibrant. What we do here might not have  worked in other places and that’s because Birmingham isn’t like other places.” LH

“Our show Of All The People In All The World had piles of rice that represented different population statistics such as the number of people that are born and die each day”,  explains Charlotte. “It has proven one of our most successful shows  internationally and to date has had over 4,500 people in three weeks visit the Birmingham site alone. It’s the kind of show that breaks down barriers. We had people in suits standing next to people in skate gear, no preconceptions about each other - just there to enjoy the exhibit.” Trying to describe the show really doesn’t do the experience  justice. Stan’s Cafe has enjoyed a large amount of international success and the group are keen that their work is seen on both a  local, national and international level. This year they have created two new shows which will both be previewed in Birmingham before going on tour nationally. “One thing that we are especially  excited about is hosting the BE (Birmingham European) Festival  from the 30 June - 3 July, 025


ROSIE KAY Following her work globally as a choreographer within prestigious dance circles, Rosie set up and established the Rosie Kay Dance Company in Birmingham in 2004. Spanning a multitude of genres her work encompasses a range of modern themes, characterised by analysis of cultural and social anxiety. Not scared of shying away from often highly controversial subjects, the Company’s Asylum was based around interviews that Rosie held with refugees. More recently, she used the same tactics to research 5 Soldiers, training with The 4th Battalion, The Rifles. What is the best cultural event you have seen in the city? The International Dance Festival Birmingham 2008 (www.idfb. was totally fantastic. It was so wonderful to see world-class dance in my home city. I am used to traveling all over the world to see dance, so it was great to have it come here. What is your favourite piece of work by a Birmingham based group? I like Stan’s Cafe, (110 Northwood Street) a local theatre company, with a world class reputation. I also love The Birmingham Royal Ballet: I loved E=MC2 recently at BRB ( 026

What do you think we are good at in Birmingham? Nurturing good talent, taking art seriously, combining forces, talking to one another, and having a great sense of humor. Do you have a favourite cultural venue? That has to be The Hippodrome complex, Hurst Street. There are two theatres, fantastic dance studios and a great bar across the road for after rehearsals and shows. Where do you go for a luxury meal? I like to go to Lasan, James Street, which is actually my local restaurant in the Jewellery Quarter (it recently won Gordon Ramsay’s best local restaurant on national TV).  I also love Bank in Brindleyplace and Wongs on Fleet Street for its amazing Chinese food. What’s Birmingham’s bestkept secret? It’s where I pop out to for lunch in Birmingham. Mount Fuji in Bullring is the best Japanese food outside of Tokyo (or so my partner tells me). Utterly the best bento box and sashimi ever.   Where do you take friends when they visit the city? Firstly a walk around, taking in Centenary Square. Then we’d go to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in Chamberlain Square, to see the Pre-Raphaelites and

a cup of tea in the Edwardian Tea Rooms. We’d wander up the canals to Brindleyplace and look in the Ikon Gallery too, then finish by popping in to see No.9 Gallery for a glass of wine and look at some more art. I’d recommend a show in the evening at the Hippodrome or music at Symphony Hall, ending with a drink on St Paul’s Square. Which traits make Birmingham unique? Its people, its atmosphere, its crazy buildings and expressways, its sense of humor and its great dance studios!

What do you love about the city? The dance scene here. I also love my flat in the Jewellery Quarter and I love the fact that I can walk everywhere. It’s a city that works; everything is close enough and people know each other. It’s a big city but it feels like a small town. What is your top Birmingham tip for visitors? Be brave: book tickets, go to restaurants and see things. The quality of work here is fantastic and people are not trying to rip you off in theatres or restaurants; people seem to care. Also talk to people, we are friendly. RC



MUSIC BIRMINGHAM Residents have always included a fine selection of iconoclasts, carving new musical paths; unconsciously reflecting the rhythms of a city in a state of constant flux and urban regeneration. Birmingham is musically ahead of the curve. Take Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, with their savagely fantastical takes on the concrete reality of post-war England promptimg many critics to correctly laud Birmingham as the home of Metal. Or GBH, who in the late 70s, pioneered UK Hardcore. While the skewed rush of Swell Maps and the deranged funk of Au Pairs pre-empted the sounds of Post-Punk and its more commercial guise of New Wave. Birmingham during the 1980s pioneered New Wave hitmaking with Dexys Midnight Runners, The Beat, Musical Youth and UB40, drawing on the city’s myriad of cultural identities to create vibrant new sounds. While these bands epitomised the 80’s ethnic make up, it was Duran Duran who reflected the opulent new consumerism with their sophisticated production and dancefloor chic. Indeed, Birmingham’s vibrant clubbing community gave rise to a number of influential figures. Jungle legend Goldie came of age breakdancing and graffiting around Birmingham and Apache Indian, who channelled Birmingham’s creole culture into a new genre known as Bhangramuffin, and has been celebrated by many as the first international asian pop artist.  Napalm Death carved out another niche genre when it took Metal to its logical conclusion inventing the frantic, break-neck sound of grindcore. The city has frequently been the backdrop for musical experimentation be it dreamy krautrockers Pram, eclectic twee act Misty’s Big Adventure or Broadcast who piloted a psychedelic spaceship from the midst of Kings Heath. Not that there hasn’t been a fair share of outfits mining the vein of more commercially successful sounds; from Dodgy and Ocean Colour Scene through to The Twang and Editors Brummie bands have long been ubiquitous in the charts.  


This is a city that has had a representative in each significant musical movement of the past five decades. Though these disparate artists are remembered with varying degrees of kindness, elements of their jumbled influences periodically resurface. Be it Stinky Wizzleteat’s virulent sludge metal or F*ck Your Haircut’s comic thrash; DJ Hazard’s aggressive drum & bass and the brooding Dub-step of Emalkay, Jayou and Enigma. From Tantrums daring hipster prog to the thrilling samba grooves of Savant, or Joyous’ kaleidoscopic indie pop and The Carpels pulsating melodic sound, even Goodnight Lenin’s transgressive Americana, all these artists are making thrilling music which channels the spirit of their geographic ancestors and is continuing a proud lineage of Brummie creativity. AS For more details about music events taking place go to

Image: Steve Gerrard



Music venues

Want to catch some live music while you are in the city or check out a great DJ? Well here is our pick of the best venues to catch the hottest talents… The Jam House Deep in the heart of the city’s Jewellery Quarter this venue is definitely your thing if you fancy sipping a classy cocktail while watching vintage bands like The Stylistics or Dr. Feelgood. If the music on your iPod is soul, funk and groove this place was made for you. Town Hall Since 1834 this neo-classical building has dominated the city centre’s Victoria and Chamberlain Squares. The Grade 1 listed landmark was recently renovated and given an amazing new breath of life in order to show off its stunning acoustics and splendid interior. At this venue you are likely to see as wide a variety of acts as you can imagine. Whether it’s Tony Bennett or style iconoclast Grace Jones, you can catch variety in all its guises - dance, classical music, folk and rock. 030

The Hare & Hounds Based in the part of Brum fondly known as ‘the heath’ you can catch the best new music at this intimate venue. Local bands mix with emerging chart acts to make this one of the best places to watch the next generation of music talent in the city. Birmingham Promoters, Capsule, Miss Perry and Chicks Dig Jerks are some of the best local promoters showcasing nights here. Oh and to top all that the drink and entry prices are pretty nifty too. The Rainbow This Digbeth hotspot plays host to the best club nights around such as Below, Naked Lunch and FACE, so whatever music you favour you are sure to find something to shake your tush to here. Live music and djs pump music out over three rooms, while the huge warehouse at the back of the venue has previously been rocked to the core by the likes of The Prodigy, Crazy P and Erol Alkan. Always favouring the eclectic and experimental over mainstream music, this venue really should be on your hit list of places to check out.

Image: Paul Green

The Victoria This vintage theatre pub definitely has character in bucket loads. You can sample some of Brum’s great club nights here including; Enid Blight On (disco rave), Moschino Hoe, Versace Hottie (1990s, RnB and Hip Hop) and Sweat (Soul, Funk, Disco, Northern Soul, Motown and Hip-Hop). Fridays are a good bet with ‘Howl’ and Saturdays are equally tasty too with a slice of electro-disco from ‘Vertigo’. Free entry downstairs every night and cheery drink prices make this an essential part of any music lover’s night out. The O2 Academy Recently re-located to a new home, this venue has undergone a dramatic £5.5m makeover. With three rooms that can host gigs or club nights, this venue attracts ‘scenesters’ with its jam-packed gig listings. Expect to catch The Courteeners, Paloma Faith, Hole, Ellie Goulding, LCD Soundsystem and Editors over the coming months. Be warned – grab your tickets early because this venue sells out.

The Flapper The Flapper is great for catching the best unsigned acts while downing a few pints. Every local band (past and present) has pretty much played here. In the summer you can sit out by the canal and watch as narrow boats idly pass you by but if it’s a little chilly you can soon get warm and sweaty in the basement while the bands entertain you. Sunflower Lounge The Sunflower Lounge brings a touch of friendliness and a slab of cool to the city’s nightlife. Bands like The Klaxons played here way before anyone like NME had even printed their name, so get along and catch some live bands long before they catch a wisp of commercialism. KO Discover more about our music scene and find out what’s on at



Home of Metal You only have to hear Ozzy Osbourne say a few words to note that those dulcet tones couldn’t belong to anywhere else but Birmingham. As the frontman of Black Sabbath, one of the originators of Heavy Metal, their legacy, along with other West Midlands bands, is being celebrated in the form of a digital archive and heritage project. Home of Metal brings people together to share their passion for the music by creating a digital archive, heritage tours, exhibitions and ultimately a permanent collection dedicated to telling the story of Metal and its unique birthplace. The digital archive is an opportunity for fans from all corners of the globe to share their passion for Heavy Metal music and contribute stories and memorabilia by uploading images, sound files and film footage to In the summer of 2011 an ambitious series of events and exhibitions will be taking place throughout the region. Visit for further information or to share your images and stories. Illustration: Francesca Bunny Williams 032

FLYOVER SHOW III For the third year running, the Flyover Show will be storming into Birmingham celebrating generations of art and black British music. Taking over the space beneath the Hockley Flyover, the vibrant show is set to explore and express a theme of black female identity. With Mercury Prize winner Speech Debelle, Eska Mtungwazi and Bridgette Amafoh heading the bill, the third Flyover Show has gained national credibility. Featuring vignettes, poetry, dance and graffiti from new emerging talents, this latest event will tap into the taste buds of people across the city and Europe. Led by award-winning saxophonist and rapper Soweto Kinch, the Flyover Show is a platform for a whole list of impressive names including Hanifa McQueen-Hudson (Britain’s first B-Girl), and music stars Bashy and Ty. This year will be no exception and is sure to entertain the masses and challenge modern day perceptions. 12noon – 9pm, 29 May, 2010, Free entry For more details about music events taking place go to 033



When you want to know the best places to grab a drink, see a band or go shopping, then we like to turn to our friends from the city. When not making some of the best tunes to come out of the UK we ask them what they get up to... Best place for a Balti Phil: Haweli in Bearwood.   It’s amazing. Saunders: Yeah, the size of the naan breads, man … [apparently they’re as big as manhole covers]. 034

Phil: Thing is, I didn’t know it existed for ages; I only went there a couple of years ago. Saunders: Yeah, you don’t notice it, it’s been there for 25 years. Phil: Also I was once taken to the College of Food, which I thought was a bit weird, but it was ace and only costs about a tenner for a full slap up four course meal. Best place to drink Phil: Oh, there are loads of ace pubs; I like the Arcadian.

JOHNNY FOREIGNER What’s your favourite venue to play in the city? We’re genetically programmed to say the Flapper (Kinston Row), even though it’s been a while. We probably played the Sunflower Lounge (76 Smallbrook Queensway) the most, both that and The Victoria (John Bright Street) are awesome tiny sweatbox venues, but we grew up playing on that [Flapper] stage.

Saunders: I like the Tap and Spile, I do. Great atmosphere, great after hours boozer, if you think every where’s shut and you can’t face a dance or ra-ra-ra in your ear, go to the Tap and Spile no trouble and its open till five in the morning.

What advise would you give to new visitors to the city? Always haggle your fare in taxis; choose Resurrection and Panic (both nights at Subway City, 27 Water Street) over Snobs and the Academy; find one of the parks near Selly Oak and go picnic in it. Where’s best for a hangover breakfast? Aha, we totally know this one! Leslie’s Cafe on the Pershore Rd in Selly Park. The rest of my band (and loads of muso/arty peeps) live around it and visit religiously. 035



CBSO The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is 90 years old this year and is celebrating with an amazing schedule of classical and contemporary concerts. CBSO is currently under the music direction of Andris Nelsons, a young world-famous Latvian conductor, who was Musical Director for the Latvian National Opera. 2010 has some fantastic concerts lined up. Summer highlights include Masekela and the CBSO on 7 May, with songs and instrumental music from South Africa’s Hugh Masekela and the Town Hall Gospel Choir. Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique symphony comes to the Symphony Hall on 2 & 3 June, a raw but beautiful musical autobiography, which will also be broadcast by BBC Radio 3 on 2 June. On 12 June, Wagner’s ultimate romantic opera, Lohengrin, recounts the tale of damsels in distress, wicked sorceresses and knights in shining armour, as Nelsons exclusively previews his interpretation of the piece before his performance at Wagner’s own theatre in Bayreuth. The Town Hall plays host to the CBSO Youth Orchestra on 28 July, as the acclaimed chamber orchestra performs a combination of mini operas, jazz-age ballet and its take on Jörg Widmann’s Con brio, which was a smash at last year’s BBC Proms. Founded in 1920 by politician and subsequent Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, the inaugural concert was conducted by Sir Edward Elgar and since those early days, the Orchestra has gained international respect and acclaim. Previous directors have included great names such as Adrian Boult, Andrzej Panufnik and Louis Frémaux. It was the 18-year leadership of Sir Simon Rattle that really bought the Orchestra international acclaim, with an increase in its recording profile and an enhanced reputation for interpretations of classical and contemporary pieces. In addition to frequent concerts in the UK, the CBSO are also in demand all over the world, and in the past have played to audiences in New York, Eindhoven, Lugano, Turin, Bonn, Berlin, Lucerne and London. The worldwide reputation has been further enhanced by the discography of music recorded and released by the orchestra, including recordings of Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerti and Stravinsky. LM For further information about the CBSO and forthcoming events go to



FLATPACK FESTIVAL Flatpack Festival is a unique entity that single-handedly breathes life into Birmingham’s film scene. Its fringe aesthetic surpasses just photomontage and its innovative events have included bus tours, puppet shows and performance art. The name Flatpack is a perfect film philosophy: film reduces reality into portable, projectionable forms. 038

Thus the festival can unpack itself into an array of eclectic and sometimes derelict buildings including warehouses, galleries and even youth clubs. Prepare to form opinions if you go. The festival is heavy on interesting, provoking film and discussion is encouraged. The handy beer and cake bar is a great conversation

lubricant and makes it all feel extra friendly. Past years have seen festival-goers knitting along to flicks, joining in with lively Q & As and many of the film-makers can be spotted joining the fun. Flatpack is traditionally packed with music films, including music videos and band documentaries. Screenings have included The Family Jams: an engrossing AntiFolk documentary which followed artists like Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom on tour. Although there is no competition aspect here, there are plenty of events that bring their ‘best of’ to Birmingham. Previous showings such as Sita Sings the Blues, Let The Right One In and Sleep Furiously have also grown in recognition and gone on to win at other festivals.

7 Inch Cinema is the group’s year round film staple, holding the lines for film lovers around Birmingham. Purveyors of all things eclectic, the screenings are often based around curious, new, emerging films. 7 Inch’s efforts have meant that many films that are rarely screened get an audience and get a ‘bigger than laptop’ viewing. It takes the same Flatpack theory; that film can be viewed anywhere and brings it to pubs, warehouses and strange DIY constructions around the Midlands. RC For further information on future events go to area


tom lawes


The Electric

Since opening over 100 years ago the UK’s oldest working cinema, The Electric, has gone through more changes than the city’s skyline. Early incarnations include an amusement arcade and a horror cinema. The cinema now includes two screens, countless comfy sofas and a diverse selection of features and comforts befitting the character of the venue. It is easy to see how it has sustained itself as the only independent cinema to remain in the city. Tom Lawes is the pioneer behind the latest face of The Electric and these are his cultural picks of the city... Best cultural event you have seen in the city? I never thought I’d say this a few years ago but I actually think Artsfest is really good (Birmingham’s annual arts festival which takes place every September). My band has played on the main stage a couple of times and the event brings in a huge number of people to the city.   Favourite piece of work by a Birmingham based filmmaker? I sound-mixed a short film a few years ago by a young director


called Sean Spencer. The film, called Stripes was a brilliantly stylish, tense thriller. Do you have a favourite cultural venue? I really love the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (Chamberlain Square) and think the new O2 Academy (16-18 Horsefair, Bristol Street) is a great asset to the city.   What is your top Birmingham tip for visitors? Book a sofa at The Electric and order an absinthe (or two). What’s your favourite story about The Electric? There used to be an undertaker next door and the cinema basement was used as an overflow morgue during WWII.   Do you think there is a strong film community in Birmingham? There is a small but enthusiastic group of filmmakers here. I’m directing a film at the moment called The Last Projectionist, a documentary about the history of the cinema and the end of 35mm film. AR For what’s showing go to





THE LIBRARY OF BIRMINGHAM Building is already underway to improve Birmingham’s burgeoning cultural landscape. The brutalist structure that housed the former library is being replaced with a new ultra modern one in Centenary Square. Work on the new Library of Birmingham began in January this year and will be completed in 2013 to compliment the title of ‘UK City of Culture’ for which Birmingham is currently short-listed. The massive structure is being built in Birmingham’s largest public square; sandwiched between The REP Theatre and the beautiful listed Baskerville House, adding yet another iconic symbol to Birmingham’s recognised skyline. The multi-levelled construction has been designed by award winning Dutch designers Mecanoo, who also designed the space age Wei-Wu-ing Centre for the Arts in Taiwan. Harking back to the craftsmanship history of the city the transparent glass building is covered in a metal filigree shell meaning much of the library will be visible from the square. Once complete, visitors will get to explore the new exhibition galleries that will, for the first time, showcase the city’s outstanding and internationally significant archives and special collections, including photography and early and fine Printing. Hours of classic films, television, documentaries and even home movies will form a fascinating window to the nation’s shared history with the British Film Institute (BFI) Mediatheque. Visitors will have free access to many of the rarest and most extraordinary titles in the BFI National Archive which offers an ever-expanding collection of more than 1,500 titles, over 85% of which are unavailable to view anywhere else. Sections of the old library will live on through the re-use of original wood lining in the Victorian-style Shakespeare memorial reading room. An open-air amphitheatre at the lower ground floor will bring the library out into the public realm and providing a venue for live performance including music, poetry and story-telling. RC If you would like to know more about the new Library of Birmingham go to 043

BIRMINGHAM BY THE BOOK Tindal Street Press was set up in 1998 to show off West Midland’s literary talent. In 2003 Clare Morrall’s Astonishing Splashes of Colour was Booker shortlisted. Its scene on the number 11 outer circle route was dramatized for local TV. She was the first of three Tindal Street authors to be listed for the Man Booker Prize, all Birmingham residents. Catherine O’Flynn had a stupendous success with her debut What Was Lost, a funny and poignant tale of childhood loss in a West Midlands shopping centre. Her next Birmingham-soaked book is about a local TV news presenter’s sadness, The News Where You Are. Gaynor Arnold, a Birmingham social worker, was the other prizelisted Tindal Street author with her Dickens-themed Girl in a Blue Dress, though most recently a Wolverhampton-set novel Beauty by Raphael Selbourne has been another Costa First Novel winner for Tindal Street Press. Alan Mahar, Publishing Director, talks about literary Birmingham... “When I first came to Birmingham back in the late Seventies I had an aha experience at Birmingham REP. It was the premiere of David Edgar’s Mary Barnes, in which Timothy Spall played a vinyl of the Stones’ ‘Paint it Black’ over and over. An eye-opener for me: challenging writing was going on 044


in Birmingham, after all. But which authors were most associated with the city? In the thirties there was the Birmingham Group – Walter Allen, Lesley Halward and John Hampson. I knew that the great poet W. H. Auden (whose ‘O Tell Me the Truth About Love’ was used in Four Weddings and a Funeral) had a Harborne family connection and that later he visited his friend Louis MacNiece, who was teaching Classics at the University of Birmingham. McNiece’s poem ‘Birmingham’ captures much of the industrious, industrial hum and buzz of city life at that time. The true laureate of Birmingham, though, has to be Handsworth-born Roy Fisher. His classic Sixties sequence ‘City’ and more recent ‘Birmingham River’ imagine the city best of all. I had enjoyed the authentic voice of 1920s factory life in Henry Green’s remarkable Living, set in the Birmingham factory owned by the family of the author, whose real name was Henry Yorke. And I’d observed that one weekend every year Sarehole Mill and Moseley Bog are assailed by Lord of the Rings fans looking for tenuous links with the famous Professor of Anglo Saxon, J. R. R. Tolkien. David Lodge immortalized the city and its university as Rummidge,

especially in Nice Work, adapted for TV. He is most associated with the campus comedies, Changing Places and Small World, but his Therapy, Thinks and Deaf Sentence are still reaching new audiences. Notable too is Jim Crace, a Birmingham author with international horizons who has written a string of richly imagined novels – Quarantine, Being Dead and the Pesthouse, which haven’t featured Birmingham heavily, but Arcadia has a market theme that chimes with Birmingham.

Alan Mahar, Publishing Director of Tindal Street Press is also the author a Birmingham-set novel, After the Man Before. Illustration: Hayley Warnham

Birmingham-born Jonathan Coe has been revered for the TV adaptation of The Rotters’ Club, which captured the moment in November 1974 when the pub bombs went off in the Mulberry Bush and the Tavern in the Town. Closed Circle was a follow-up, but he is best known for his hilarious Eighties satire What a Carve Up. Amongst other bestselling Birmingham authors are Mike Gayle, a well-loved chronicler of relationships; while the John Macken forensic crime novels reflect the author’s scientific research vocation in Brum. It’s more of a surprise that R.J. Ellory is a Birmingham author because his huge-selling crime thrillers are set exclusively in the States.”



Mike Gayle

Leading the way as one of the city’s foremost contemporary literary talents, Brummy born-and-bred author Mike Gayle earned his credentials as a confidant of teenage girls. When he had finished responding to the wares and woes of Just Seventeen readers as the resident Agony Uncle he started writing best selling novels about love, life and relationships. His ninth book, the non-fiction crowdpleaser The To Do List, was released at the tail-end of 2009 and here he takes time out of writing hit bestsellers to chat about why in his humble opinion Birmingham is “the greatest city in the world with the nicest people too.” 046

You appeared at the Birmingham Book Festival last year. How do you think Birmingham is represented on the literary landscape? I think we’re doing okay. It’s great to see people like Catherine O’Flynn (winner of the First Novel prize at the Costa Book Awards in 2008 for her book What Was Lost) flying the flag for Brum with her success, and the achievements of Tindal Street Press have been outstanding.

Life and Soul of the Party documented the ups and downs for three couples over a succession of parties and nights out. Where do you think is best for a tipple and dance? Tipple-wise in the city centre, I’d go for the Yardbird (Paradise Place) or The Patrick Kavanagh (Forest Road) in Moseley. As for dancing, it has to be the once a month club night Sweat at The Victoria on John Bright Street, it really is the bee’s knees.

You set your first novel My Legendary Girlfriend in London – why was that? My first novel was set in London mainly because that’s where I was living at the time, but even then I still made sure that main character came from Nottingham because I was so aware of the cultural imbalance of having so many novels set in the capital. The first opportunity I had to set a novel in Birmingham, I took it and Turning Thirty (set in Moseley and Kings Heath) went on to sell over 300,000 copies.

Your Myspace page lists quite an eclectic mix of music. What’s the best gig you’ve been to in Birmingham? That’s an easy one. The Stone Roses at the Irish Centre, Digbeth in 1989. Best. Gig. Ever.

How have things changed for you in the 10 years since your first novel and what do you make of the changes that have occurred in Birmingham? The main thing for me is that I’ve got older and slightly grumpier. As for Birmingham, I think the changes that have happened in the last decade have been pretty huge. I think the Bullring is a great addition to the Birmingham landscape.

You contributed a story to a Smiths anthology last year. Do you rate any particular bands from our city in the same way? In my younger days there were tonnes of local bands that I loved like The Liberty Thieves, Onionhead, Dogfood and Rumblefish. I’m not quite as up on the local scene as I used to be but currently I’m liking the new Johnny Foreigner CD a lot. LM



sport & The cultural olympiad

With both our football teams, Aston Villa and Birmingham City, in the Premier League, and members of the Birchfield Harriers athletic team winning gold medals all over the world, we are very proud of our sporting heritage in the city. As well as being home to the oldest lawn tennis club in the country summer also sees fans flood the city’s Edgbaston Cricket Ground when international test matches are played – it’s no wonder we’ve staged more sporting events than any other UK city.

Birmingham. We had the vision in 2006, as the first city to realise the potential of making the 2012 games an event for cities across the UK. Now in 2010 I am delighted that we have shown the determination to see it through.

However, as Britain becomes awash with Olympic fever and the games gear up for London 2012, Birmingham also has good reason to be excited. Having recently secured both the Jamaican and the US teams to use the city as their area training camp ensures that we’ll be nice and close to all the action.

The move will no doubt enrich our cultural relationships with America and Jamaica, as well as enriching our own diverse communities, many of whom have strong links back to the Caribbean.

Of course Birmingham is not just ideally suited to host the teams with first class facilities like the Harriers’ home of Alexander Stadium but it also has impressive transport links as well as a stellar sporting history. Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council said: “This is another major coup for the city of 048

We have achieved formidable success as, underpinning our reputation as the UK’s sporting city, Birmingham will bring the world’s fastest athletes (Jamaica) together with the world’s most successful track and field team (USA).

Not only will this signing enhance our reputation as a global city, it will create a significant boost to the local economy – with conservative estimates suggesting the economic impact of the USA and Jamaican teams will exceed £15m.” For more information about sport and fixtures go to visitbirmingham. com/area Continued on page 50...

7 – 13 June 2010 Aegon British Tennis Classic Edgbaston Priory Club 25 – 27 June 2010 Aviva European Trials Alexander Stadium 7 - 17 July 2010 IWBF World Wheelchair Basketball Championships The NIA 12 July 2010 England v Bangladesh Natwest One Day International Edgbaston Cricket Ground 24 – 25 July 2010 British Trampoline Championships 6 – 10 August 2010 England v Pakistan Npower Test Match Edgbaston Cricket Ground 18 – 19 September 2010 GB Judo World Cup The NIA 24 October 2010 EDF Energy Birmingham Half Marathon

1 February 2011 Aviva Grand Prix Athletics Alexander Stadium

Image: Martin Pickard

1 December 2010 British Indoor Rowing Championships



Drawing on the excitement of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and our heritage of innovation and invention, the West Midlands Culture Programme for London 2012 will show the world just what a creative and energetic place the West Midlands is. The Programme will inspire the people of the region to join in and have their ‘Olympic Moment’. The aim is to raise the West Midland’s profile and reputation, putting our world class, innovative cultural offer at the heart of the region’s response to London 2012. Many cultural institutions will be stepping up to work with new artists and cultural figures and to engage with people from all backgrounds as participants, audiences and leaders.   There are already a number of ways to get involved. People Dancing 050

involves all generations and cultures creating dance events across the region, Community Games which launches in the spring uses the inspiration of the Wenlock Olympian Games to create cultural and sporting celebrations organised by communities in streets, towns and city suburbs. Open Weekend 2010, 23 – 25 July, will be an opportunity for people to celebrate two years to the opening of the 2012 Games and will see them participate in a range of events and activities from dancing on bicycles to live music in the park to storytelling in museums. There are also opportunities to engage in national projects that form part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Godiva Awakes, the region’s Artist Taking the Lead project will see Godiva awake in June 2012 to a massive celebration in Coventry and travel to London

by an extraordinary 50-bicycle creation. Film Nation Shorts is a film-making programme for young people run by Screen WM, with awards for the best film in each class, events and master classes – many of which will take place in the West Midlands. The World Shakespeare Festival led by the RSC will see a programme of international Shakespeare work in Stratford, London and Newcastle from Shakespeare’s birthday in April 2012 until the Games open. For a full list of projects and events taking place as part of the West Midlands Culture Programme for London 2012 and to find out how you can get involved go to

Image: Martin Pickard



A recent survey named Birmingham as one of the most style-conscious cities in the country, “home to some of the UK’s most fashionable people”. Birmingham has a diverse range of over 1000 shops squeezed into a square mile, so it’s easy to see how locals and visitors alike can get carried away. Bullring shopping centre presents everything the high street shopper needs. The large Topshop offers most of the concession lines, including the limited high fashion range Topshop Unique, for those who wish to experiment. Selfridges is the focal point of the shopping centre. Renowned architects Future Systems designed the structure, which exhibits 15,000 aluminium discs attached to a blue concrete-rendered shell, and has transformed the Birmingham skyline for the 21st century. As much a spectacle internally as externally, Selfridges is worth visiting for the food hall alone. 052

Image: Martin Pickard



To entice serious shoppers away from Bullring, boutique Disorder on Needless Alley offers distinctive original pieces. Last year the two designer-owners won the Best Independent Retailer award in the city. For further designer shopping, visit Louis Vuitton (71 Temple Row), Flannels (14 Lower Temple Street) and Gieves and Hawkes (The Mailbox, 44-46 Wharfside Street). The Mailbox contains designer shops, restaurants and bars, all under one roof. Fashion outside of the luxury and mainstream sectors in Birmingham is flourishing. Aside from the collection of eclectic shops in the city centre such as local hipster favourite A Too (Ethel Street), New Era (Corporation Street), Urban Outfitters (Corporation Street), and the anti-fashion mall Oasis (Corporation Street), huge vintage warehouse Cow (Digbeth High Street) and the Custard Factory flea market and General Stores (Gibb Street) are just five minutes walk away. Local blog uberbrum. is great to glean ideas from, parading the best alternative trends of Birmingham scenesters. There is a plethora of local design talent constantly emerging thanks to the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, one of the top ten design schools in the country. The 054

college has supplied interns to Max Mara, Stella McCartney, Giles Deacon and Vivienne Westwood, and also provided a platform for one of the fashion industry’s most highly regarded experts, Creative Director Lee Lapthorne. When not running The Clothes Show, Lee is mentoring models on Channel 5’s Make Me A Supermodel. Two emerging talents in particular continue to make headlines. Jacob Kimmie’s delicate monochrome designs are consistently popular at London Fashion Week. Kimmie chooses to stay in Birmingham, where he feels more at home and hopes to nurture the local fashion industry. Gavin Douglas, another Birmingham-based designer, won the impressive Fashion Fringe award in 2006 for his playful shapes, colours and textures. Birmingham has a diverse yet innovative fashion history. It varies from the eternally chic and groomed, such as Brownhills-born Erin O’Connor, who Karl Lagerfield hailed “one of the best models in the world”, to the skate-inspired indie kids motivated by the heavy metal and punk history of the city. The Midlands is a hive of creativity, full of individuals who love fashion and want to express it. AP For more information about fashion in the city see

Image: Martin Pickard




BRILLIANTLY BIRMINGHAM Birmingham showcases its glittering history in a huge festival every year that celebrates its rich heritage in jewellery making. Set in the famous Jewellery Quarter the festival kicks off in the winter and attracts fashion-savvy crowds, industry insiders and up and coming contemporary designers. Birmingham is famous for its metal forging and the festival aims to enliven its past history and bright future by bringing together all areas of jewellery making. It includes a wide range of events that include seminars, workshops, exhibitions and even walking tours through the historic area. The proposed World Heritage Site offers more than diamond necklaces and wedding rings. The Jewellery Quarter historically produced many other fascinating items, even pen nibs. The guided tours, which snake through the quarter, focus on historic building and local folklore. Set in various venues throughout Birmingham including the BCU School of Jewellery and The Royal Birmingham Society of Arts, (instrumental in Birmingham’s artistic history and supported PreRaphaelite artists) Brilliantly Birmingham recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. Although typically a fashion industry event many designers exhibiting choose to challenge jewellery’s function in an evolving world where techniques have diversified in changing times. Artists have experimented with casting, metal types and glass and many have used other art forms to inspire their work. Exhibits range from necklaces and cufflinks to work which assesses what’s wearable and pushes ideas of form and function. The distinctiveness and creativity of design today is elevated with inspirational bespoke pieces, which border on artforms. The creativity of many makers has helped Birmingham climb onto the international fashion map. An event for magpies, the festival and Jewellery Quarter make Birmingham shine. RC For dates of 2010’s event and further details of attractions at the Jewellery Quarter go to 057


Illustration: Smile


Birmingham is a leading wireless city bubbling with online activity with strong blogging and twitter communities, monthly social media surgeries and Brum Blogger meet ups in pubs and cafes across the city. They offer a wealth of information about activities and events taking place and are a great source for finding out about those underground niche activities that might otherwise pass by your radar. So don’t be shy get online and take a look...

– the number 11, (which circles the city) on 11 November for 11 hours the participants documented the route with film, imagery and, of course, words.

Informative and entertaining blog, morecanalsthanvenice. champions and highlights those events often overlooked by the mainstream press. We asked author and creator, Annabel Clarke, to be our guide to Birmingham’s online world. / weareeastside. com Birmingham’s own creative district has several lively sites. Digbeth is Good charts the vibrant community in the area and We Are Eastside represents several of the most active event-producing organisations spanning visual art to experimental music events. Created in Birmingham is a great resource for creative opportunities in the city. Not content with living a life solely online the CiB team like to get out and about and recently opened up a pop-up shop in Bullring, offering the chance for Birmingham creatives to display and sell their work in one of Europe’s prime retail centres. Birmingham: It’s Not Shit runs the highly anticipated Brummie of the Year competition and Talk Like a Brummie Day. Last year it documented, along with other bloggers, the outskirts of the city in the annual 11-11-11 event. Taking one of the longest bus routes in Europe

Other successful activities with strong ties to the online community include Film Dash, a 48-hour film competition and the annual Digbeth O’Lympics, which include events such as ‘conkers and gurning’, snail and goldfish racing, and welly wanging.

Twitter Most of the city’s galleries, theatres and creative organisations and individuals are keen Tweeters. Birmingham even has it’s own pantomime on Twitter, Twitpanto. Last year’s Robin Hood was nominated for a Shorty Award, which celebrates the best people, organisations and enterprises on Twitter. However, there may have been a few too many twitpics of men in tights... Birmingham Twestival also organises nights to raise money for various charities. AC



Outside Birmingham

There’s never been a better time to live in Birmingham. From Digbeth’s arty leanings to hallmarks like the REP and Town Hall, culture is alive and well and constantly evolving. However, it’s easy to forget the wider West Midlands has an abundance of cultural goodies on offer. Below are our tips on what to seek out this year and beyond. Wolverhampton Lady Wulfruna’s city is sometimes considered to be Birmingham’s little sister and there’s plenty of enriching events to enjoy. Wolverhampton Art Gallery continues to act as the city’s cultural centrepiece, with its dedicated Pop Art collection a particular draw. Two exhibitions run into autumn: Stories, an exploration of storytelling, and Pop Protest, comparing turbulent periods of history.


Wolves Civic’s multiple venues offer one of the region’s best musical line-ups. Upcoming highlights include Faithless’s return and Florence and The Machine’s two-nighter in May. Comedy is also catered for with rib-tickling repeat visits from Frankie Boyle, and one for the diary as Russell Kane hits the Slade Rooms in February 2011. A beacon of cultural highlights, Light House Media Centre features exciting exhibitions from new and established talent while showcasing the best in world cinema. Just a few miles up the road Bilston Craft Gallery showcases beautiful pieces from local, national and international artists. Work on display ranges from unique handmade ceramics to amazing pieces made from everyday objects.

Coventry Coventry has so much to offer including... Warwick Arts Centre is fast becoming the treasure of the Midlands. Its 2010 arts programme incorporates operatic reworkings of Shakespeare, laughs from Stewart Francis, classical courtesy of CBSO, and appearances from Ian McEwan and Jools Holland. Keep Godiva weekend free. Cov’s indie festival takes over the War Memorial Park for three days (2-4 July) of music, comedy, poetry and fun. Best of all? It’s free! History and art buffs should make a date with The Herbert, Coventry’s esteemed museum and gallery. A number of scheduled must-see temporary exhibits compliment its permanent collections.

Walsall If you still haven’t had your fill of art, Walsall’s New Art Gallery is waiting. This year, witness the culmination of the year-long ‘House of Fairy Tales’ exhibition featuring the work of 23 international artists as it celebrates its 10th anniversary. Stratford-upon-Avon It may be home to Shakespeare, but the end of July is when dance music fans take over Stratfordupon-Avon. Global Gathering touches down on Long Marston Airfield on 30 July for a weekend of dancing, decadence and 2manydjs. The above listings are a mere cherry-picking of 2010’s cultural highlights in the Mids. If you’d like to know more about attractions and events around the West Midlands then go to LM

Image: Paul Green


cULtUre caLenDar 2010-11

visUaL art 1 May – 30 August pLUg in mac Plug In celebrates the opening of mac’s enviable new gallery space by exploring the changing role of our home city.

FestivaL 29 - 30 May birmingham priDe Hurst Street The annual 2-day festival celebrating the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in the city.

perFormance 1 May - 29 August the sampaD storY - 20th birthDaY exhibition retrospective mac The sampad Story is a retrospective exhibition that takes you on a journey of South Asian arts in the region since 1990.

FestivaL Throughout June bass Venues throughout Birmingham A month-long celebration of Black music, art and culture.

visUaL art 26 May – 11 July seeing one’s oWn eYes - maDein Ikon This first European exhibition of Xu Zhen impersonates a fictional group of middle eastern artists. visUaL art 27 May – 20 June FLorian hecker Ikon Eastside Installation manipulating spatial awareness using sound. 062

visUaL art 2 – 20 June great excUsion – raYcho stanev THE EDGE Bulgarian artist Stanev’s interactive installation details the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Turks from Bulgaria on a state-enforced ‘holiday’ back to Turkey – with no return. visUaL art 2 – 26 June protest: Fight the poWer: tWentY Years oF the poLiticaL poster Custard Factory Now in the UK for the

first time Protest is a startling exhibition of shock and awe by graphic designers from around the world. mUsic 5 June FoLk Dance DaY mac A day of dance and folk music featuring; Cut A Shine troupe, female Morris dancers, The Belles of London City, the legendary Demon Barber Roadshow and guitarist Wizz Jones. FestivaL 8 June vaLe FestivaL University of Birmingham A unique summer event organised entirely by student volunteers. perFormance 22 - 26 June brb - sWan Lake Birmingham Hippodrome Its exquisite ensembles, lyrical pas de deux and bravura solos are set to one of the world’s most achingly beautiful musical scores. visUaL art 26 June – 17 October steve mccUrrY

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery See the award winning work of American photo-journalist Steve McCurry who braves war torn landscapes to capture his subjects. visUaL art 1 – 25 July anDreW cross Ikon Eastside A new moving-image project exploring the rock drum solo, featuring Carl Parmer. FestivaLs 3 - 4 July mostLY JaZZ Moseley Park Celebrate the diversity of contemporary jazz, funk and soul with Sun Ra Arkestra, Courtney Pine and Polar Bear. visUaL art 3 July – 4 September book shoW Eastside Projects Examining radical artists and designers publications and formats of exhibition design in relation to book producing. perFormance 7 - 9 July WeLsh nationaL

opera – rigoLetto Birmingham Hippodrome Rigoletto is one of Verdi’s most powerful and direct operas but also contains some of his most appealing and memorable music including “La donne e mobile” and the breathtaking quartet “Bella figlia dell’amore”. perFormance 13 July - 21 August the soUnD oF mUsic Birmingham Hippodrome Connie Fisher returns as Maria in the world’s best-loved musical. This lavish and critically acclaimed production tells the uplifting true story of the Von Trapp family’s flight across the mountains and works its magic once again, for young and old alike. event 16 - 18 July taste oF birmingham Cannon Hill Park Imagine a summer’s day picnic in a beautiful city park, multiply that by lots of friends and invite the best restaurants in the West Midlands to contribute

the food. Welcome to Taste of Birmingham. FestivaL 16 – 25 July the 26th birmingham internationaL JaZZ & bLUes FestivaL birminghamjazzfestival. com Various venues 200 performances in 60 venues by nearly 400 musicians. visUaL art 21 July – 5 September this coULD happen to YoU Ikon An insight into Ikon’s history through work exhibited at the gallery during the 1970s. visUaL art 5 August – 5 September sergio vega Ikon Eastside Imagery of paradise filmed in Brazil. FestivaL 4 - 6 September moseLeY FoLk FestivaL Moseley Park This year’s line-up includes: Donovan, Fyfe Dangerfield, Beth Jeans 063

cULtUre caLenDar 2010-11

Houghton, Goodnight Lenin, Jo Hamilton, The Destroyers. FestivaL 10 - 12 September artsFest City Centre This free event is the City’s biggest cultural festival with well over 250,000 people visiting. Almost everything lasts only 30 minutes, giving you the freedom to sample bite sized chunks of entertainment. visUaL art 23 September – 14 November hitchcock haLLWaY - avpD Ikon Eastside The Danish artists duo take inspiration from film, literature and science. visUaL art 22 September – 14 November kitagaWa Utamaro Ikon A major exhibition of woodblock prints by 19th century Japanese artist Kitagawa Utamaro curated by Julian Opie.


visUaL art 22 September – 14 November a gooD chair is a gooD chair DonaLD JUDD Ikon Unequivocally one of the most important artists of the twentieth century. Key pieces of his work will be on display. perFormance 28 September - 2 October the habit oF art The REP After a sell-out success in London, Alan Bennett’s latest play looks at the unsettling desires of two difficult men, and at the ethics of biography. FestivaL 1 – 10 October comeDY FestivaL Drawing attention to Birmingham’s vibrant comedy scene the annual Comedy Festival always pulls in big guest appearances. visUaL art 13 October – 13 February 2011 neW art noW Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

FestivaL 14 – 17 October Union bLack FiLm FestivaL The Union Black Film Festival celebrates the important, entertaining and positive contribution to film by the Black community to coincide with Black History month. FestivaL 23 - 25 October sUpersonic FestivaL Custard Factory The leading experimental music festival in the UK, attracts audiences from all corners of the country and beyond with its dynamic and adventurous line up. mUsic 23 October oxJambrUm Just one ticket will get you entry to the hippest and most intimate city centre music venues where you’ll be able to catch the region’s finest emerging bands and artists and as always all profits go to Oxfam. perFormance 24 November - 8 January

the secret garDen The Rep In the grounds of an imposing manor house once led to a magical garden that is about to be re-opened. FestivaL 18 – 22 October heLLo DigitaL This digital media festival enables participants to explore the modern world and open doors to new possibilities. Combining inspirational industry events with a yearlong programme of activities. event Throughout December FrankFUrt christmas market anD craFt Fair Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market is the largest of its kind of outside Germany with stalls filling Victoria Square and Upper New Street. FestivaLs December 2010 – February 2011 briLLiantLY birmingham Venues throughout

the city The annual showcase of jewellery and designer makers from the city all wrapped up in a convenient and easily viewable way. Fashion 3 - 8 December cLothes shoW NEC A fashion spectacular under one roof that gives shopaholics the chance to shop until they drop while taking in the latest trends and catwalk shows. A huge show with fashion and beauty to suit all tastes. event 4 December cLassicaL spectacULar NIA The UK’s greatest classical music show gives you the chance to marvel at the combination of music, lights, lasers and fireworks which come together to make Classical Spectacular a truly unique experience. The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra will be joined by the City of Birmingham Choir and The Band of the Welsh Guards and indoor fireworks!

FestivaL February (Dates to be confirmed) Fierce FestivaL Venues throughout Birmingham Follow the journey of the caravan of the festival artists as they develop and hone their ideas for this hyperlocal Birmingham cultural explosion. As a taster expect a temporary architectural interventions and sensory audio tours. event Mid March st patrick’s DaY paraDe Digbeth Join in the fun at one of the biggest St Patrick’s Day Parade’s in the World. FestivaL March (Date to be confirmed) FLatpack FestivaL Venues throughout Birmingham Flatpack Festival celebrates film culture, presenting work in a eclectic array of spaces and places.


THE CITY RBSA Gallery 4 Brook Street, St Paul’s, Birmingham, B3 1SA 0121 236 4353 Mon–Fri 10.30am–5.30pm, Sat 10.30am – 5.00pm, Sun 1.00pm – 5.00pm

Custard Factory Gibb Street, Digbeth, B9 4AA 0121 224 8401

Rhubarb East Gallery Rhubarb Building, Heath Mill Lane, B9 4AE

The Drum 144 Potter Lane, Aston, B6 4UU 0121 333 2400 Mon – Fri, 9am – 9pm

Stan’s Cafe AE Harris 110 Northwood Street, B3 1SZ

Eastside Projects 86 Heath Mill Lane, B9 4AR 0121 771 1778 Thu 12-6.30pm / Fri-Sat 12-5pm The Edge 79-81 Cheapside, Birmingham, B12 0QH 0121 772 6160

Ikon Gallery 1 Oozells Square,Brindleyplace, B1 2HS 0121 248 0708 11am – 6pm Tuesday to Sunday mac Cannon Hill Park, Edgbaston, B12 9QH 0121 446 3232 9am-11pm daily


Alexandra Theatre Station Street, B5 4DS 0855 847 2293 The Crescent Theatre Brindley Place, Birmingham 0121 643 5859 The Mixing Bowl Theatre The Custard Factory, Gibb Street, Digbeth The Hippodrome Hurst Street, Birmingham 0844 338 5000 The Old Joint Stock Temple Row West, Birmingham 0121 200 0946 The Rep Broad Street, Birmingham 0121 236 455


Ikon Eastside Fazeley Street, Digbeth 0121 248 0708

Art Venues

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery Chamberlain Square, B3 3DH 0121 303 2834 Mon-Thur & Sat 10am-5pm, Fri 10.30am-5pm, Sun 12.30pm-5pm

The Basement 84b New Street

Other Venues

The Flapper Kingston Row 0121 236 2421 The Hare & Hounds High Street, Kings Heath 0121 444 2081

Music Venues

The Jam House 3-5 St. Paul’s Square 0121 200 3030

The Rainbow 160 High Street, Digbeth 0121 772 8174

Moseley Private Park Alcester Road, Moseley, B13

For all the information you need when planning your trip to Birmingham including listings of restaurants, attractions, theatres, nights out, events, hotels and shopping, what’s on listings and maps go to

The Victoria 48 John Bright Street 0121 633 9439

Visitor info

Town Hall Victoria Square, B3 3DQ 0121 780 3333 Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, from 8pm on concert nights

The Lord Clifden 34 Great Hampton Street 0121 523 7515

The Vaults Newhall place, Newhall Hill 0121 212 9837

The O2 Academy 16-18 Horsefair, Bristol Street 0121 262 3000

Sunflower Lounge 76 Smallbrook Queensway 0121 632 6756

Electric Cinema 47-49 Station Street, B5 4DY 0121 643 7879

Useful Numbers Hotel Booking 0844 888 3883 Mon-Fri 9.00am-9.00pm, Sat-Sun 9.00am-5.00pm To book tickets for events and performances 0844 888 4415 Mon-Fri 8.00am-11.00pm, Sat-Sun 9.00am-9.00pm Visitor Centres Rotunda & Airport Mon-Sat 9.30am-5.30pm, Sun & BH 10.30am-4.30pm New Street Mon-Sat 9.00am-5.00pm, Sun & BH 10.00am-4.00pm Image: Paul Green


Special Edition Culture Guide - Visit Birmingham  
Special Edition Culture Guide - Visit Birmingham  

This is our Special Edition Culture guide for Visit Birmingham highlighting the AMAZING cultrual offer of the city throughout 2010-2011.