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City of Colours 2015 – Open for Artist Applications!

CoC have announced that they have opened the doors for artist applications for City of Colours 2015, which will be taking place in Digbeth on the weekend of the 12th September.

If you’d like to be involved in some capacity, please complete the artist booking form and return no later than the 14th March to

 They’ll be holding an Advisory Group Meeting towards the end of March where a panel of younger people, artists and local representatives will select artists to participate in the event.

Further information on venues, music, workshops and activities are all to follow.

For the time being keep your eyes peeled and keep an eye on their website if this is in your interests!

Digbeth First Friday



These Digbeth First Fridays don’t ‘arf come round quickly. March is already upon us and the evening of the 6th sees Digbeth once again come alive with all sorts of happenings:

  • Rather than queuing half an hour for a piece of meat in a bun on the other side of Digbeth, why not visit the lovely Digbeth Community Garden (right next to the Warehouse Cafe) where The Real Junkfood Project will be holding a pay as you feel pop-up cafe. They use food that would otherwise have been discarded to make delicious meals and snacks.
  • A3 Project Space opens its doors for the first time this year and invites you out of the cold and grey into a realm of flaming fiesta with an evening of celebration, food, drinks and dance – ¡Olé!
  • An evening of performances from musicians and sound artists at Home for Waifs and Strays.

There will also be exhibition openings at Centrala and Eastside Projects.


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Frontiers Festival returns from 16-27 March for a two week celebration of bold new music. Visitors can expect an eclectic programme of performances and exhibitions at venues across Birmingham, with internationally-respected artists performing alongside exciting new talent from the Conservatoire.

Produced by Birmingham Conservatoire, Frontiers Festival 2015 focuses on the use of electronics in contemporary classical and jazz music.

Frontiers will be celebrating the work of the Conservatoire’s ground-breaking Integra Lab. Responsible for masterminding the ‘Integra Live’ software, Integra Lab is breaking new ground in helping musicians to integrate computer technology in their work and is also saving existing pieces of electronic music made with old, obsolete technology. Frontiers celebrates the achievements of Integra Lab with a special evening repertoire on 27 March.

More on the Frontiers Festival website.

The Welcome Party



How can Birmingham shout louder about culture?

A group of young people who are part of the Creative Agency project at mac birmingham are asking the creative community to come together for The Welcome Party to try and find out how we can do better. Organised by The Icing Agency and cultural website Polaroids & Polar Bears, the event looks to bring together like-minded creative people who are passionate about culture within Birmingham.

As anyone who has been to Birmingham knows it is a place full of arts and culture. But unlike cities such as Manchester and Liverpool it has not yet found a way to truly shout out about itself. The Welcome Party gives the people of Birmingham a chance to discuss and debate how we can improve our national image.

The event is open to all who are passionate about Birmingham’s culture, whether it be creative communicators, arts marketers, web developers, filmmakers, bloggers, artists, musicians, photographers, or journalists.

The event is on Monday 9th March and you can book your free place here:

Find out more about The Icing Agency group here:

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Findings of the West Midlands 24 Hour Culture Survey are out and can be found here.

Spring is on its way – which in the Birmingham cultural calendar can only mean Flatpack! Flatpack Film Festival returns for its ninth edition from 19-29 March. Boasting 120 events at over 30 venues – take your pick from Finnish animation sculptures, long-lost archives, a virtual dinner party featuring Occulus Rift, coffee demonstrations, slime moulds, live soundtracks, camera obscuras, woollen puppets…and that’s not even including the best features, documentaries and short films new and old.

The programme is vast, but here are a few highlights:

Paper Cinema

Paper Cinema’s beautiful ‘live animation’ take on The Odyssey on over two nights at the REP.

Sex and Broadcasting – WFMU Documentary

If you’ve ever popped into the Flatpack office, you’re bound to have heard New Jersey-based freeform radio WFMU on their stereo. They’re pretty chuffed that the UK premiere of WFMU doc Sex and Broadcasting will take place at the festival this year. The documentary is an inspiring film that raises questions about survival and indie culture as Station Manager Ken Freedman battles with the recession, the regulators and his leaky building. WFMU will also be coming to Birmingham, broadcasting live from Minerva Works on Friday 27 March.

Celluloid City

Aston Hippodrome

The birthplace of celluloid and the Odeon empire, Birmingham has always had a fondness for the flicks. Celluloid City at the Barber Institute will explore and map the vibrant history of the silver screen in Birmingham. The day will include live scores to classic silent comedy shorts films and take a look into how the first Bollywood films were brought to the region in the 1950s.

 Film Bug

Internet Cats web

Film Bug is a great way to explore the city centre’s Colmore Business District with screenings and events happening across the area from 20-21 March. Expect coffee cupping (?! a.k.a tasting), 30s comedy Trouble in Paradise accompanied by a meal at Opus,  camera obscura workshop, a chance to play on old game consoles and a screening of Man With A Movie Camera at Birmingham Cathedral (recently voted the best documentary of all time by Sight and Sound magazine). Oh, and did I mention Internet Cats?

The full Flatpack programme is now online and on sale.


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For a third year running, New Art West Midlands is giving emerging artists from the West Midlands a unique opportunity to showcase their work. The exhibition is taking places across four sites – Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in Coventry, showing the work of thirty artists who have all recently graduated from one of the region’s undergraduate and postgraduate fine art degree courses.

A Turning Point West Midlands initiative, visitors can expect to see painting, sculpture, photography, performance, installation and video works from some of the West Midlands’ most promising artists. Five of the 30 artists will win cash prizes of £1000, plus a select group will be offered residencies, a project or mentoring opportunities with a network of partners, including Compton Verney, The New Art Gallery Walsall and the National Trust.

Exhibition dates:

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, 13 February – 17 May 2015

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts,13 February – 17 May 2015

Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, 14 February – 31 May 2015

Wolverhampton Art Gallery, 31 January – 25 April 2015

Applications for New Art West Midlands 2016 will open soon.


Crowd Out by BCMG at Millennium Point

The UK’s first crowd funding scheme for classical music will celebrate the completion of its 75th commission this month. Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG) set up its Sound Investment programme in 1991. Its aim was to raise much-needed funds to support living composers through the commissioning of new music. Music fans can ‘invest’ set sums of money, which allows BCMG to commission new work. The Sound Investors are then invited to hear the premiere of their works as well as visit rehearsals and meet the composer and performers.

Noteworthy composers who have benefitted from the scheme include Judith Weir, recently named Master of the Queen’s Music, and Thomas Adés, considered one of the most important figures in British classical music.

You may remember early last year the American composer David Lang was in Birmingham to premiere his newly commissioned piece Crowd Out, a musical work for 1000 shouting, singing and talking voices. The work was performed in Millennium Point by local people, including myself (I’m actually in the image above). This was also funded by the Sound Investment programme.

BCMG Artistic Director Stephen Newbould explains:

When we set up Sound Investment in 1991 it was ahead of the time. This was the era before the internet and the term ‘crowd funding’ was not yet common parlance. The scheme has allowed us to commission a great number of composers, giving established names free reign to try new creative ideas, and giving a step-up to others who are right at the start of their career. I truly believe that it has been essential in keeping contemporary classical music alive and vibrant in this country.

The 75th Sound Investment commission, Gerald Barry’s Crossing the Bar, will be premiered at the Wigmore Hall in London later this month before a performance at the CBSO Centre, Birmingham.