The Power Fifty

The Birmingham Post’s Power Fifty was announced yesterday listing those judged to have power and influence in the region. While as a neurotic boy outsider I have an instinctive distain for such enterprises it’s an interesting list given the dominance of the creative sector above the more traditional business and sport. As Stef Lewandowski (number 20) asks, Is Birmingham “getting it”? The “it” being that “a strong creative and cultural sector will be a significant factor in the continuing reinvention of Birmingham.”

But when I thought about it further I realised that there’s a much bigger issue here than my name appearing in this list – it signals a very positive change in the attitudes of opinion-makers about the strength and relevance of the design industry and the creative and cultural industries as a whole.

Stef counts 17 of the 50 as coming from the creative industry and highlights them in his list.

What I find interesting is that these people are now, by definition, the establishment. This is great in that a number of them are serious visionaries and them having a boost to their voices can only be a good thing. But it also gives those coming up behind them a visible target to kick against. You could argue that the establishment in Birmingham has been so deathly dull and impenetrable that fighting it, in words or actions, was a futile endeavour. While that’s obviously still the case with many of our leaders coughwhitbycough this bunch will give as good as they get and often welcome the challenge. Well, some of them will anyway.


  1. Yeah great, 50 people with power and influence. Someone driving us all over a cliff may still be seen as demonstrating leadership capabilities and could probably win an award for innovation. What i want to know is who are the 50 people who make the most significant contribution to our culture without the help of funding investment or any other methods of “cheating.” Who are the people who are making culturally significant contributions in the absence of funding or other support. One example springs to Mind, the story of Nachural records and Bhangra. I think thats culturally a very important exmaple of good work going on but I don’t suppose the boss of nachural will feature anywhere in the 50 top power and influence people. Maybe I’m wrong, I haven’t read the full list of 50 so perhaps i need to do my research before I start ranting but…. I noticed at least that soweto kinch is in there somewhere. I don’t want to know about power and influence, i want to know about examples of cultural significance or cultural interest or whateever the terms is. Maybe I should keep my stupid ideas to myself, I’m no expert but I sometimes feel Birmingham awards and recognises the wrong people, or at least…it appears to me to recogise those it gives the most funding too. Can you still be an entrepreneur if you are funded to be an entrepreur or you are salaried to do it anyway. can you still be seen as an innovator if someone pays you to innovate regardless of whether what you produce or what you do has any value or use? Somebody help me out here, am I off on one or does anyone else have any views?

  2. interesting list, but still appears to be mainly white males, for a city with an approaching ethnic minority, there are few asian names on this list, so maybe things haven’t moved on that much…though still probably more diverse than for most cities. Also heavily skewed on public sector rather than big business where big change for the city is made. Seems a list of who The Post know most about (thus the arts/creative heavy) rather than of true influence. Yes, Ninder Johal a glaring ommission, also those working in third sector (social enterprise, charity etc.)

  3. Devil's Advocate

    Who’s right and who’s wrong? Should the list be representative of the city’s most influential by demography or by an individual’s selection? Who should be at the helm of making the final choice for this selection?

    Let’s hear some thoughts…

  4. Mikhail/Mark: The funding this is an interesting point. I couldn’t help but notice that nearly everyone who won something at the Creative City Awards thanked a hell of a lot of agencies. I’m not sure this means anything but it could be you need to be in the game to play the game. Or some shit.

    As for the top 50 generally, it occurs to me that the Post has a new editor and is in the process of extricating itself from Trinity Mirror as as independent group. This is probably as much a planting of the flagpole move as much as anything else stating this is where the New Post stands on Birmingham. So from a city-wide perspective it don’t mean shit but regarding the Post it’s kinda interesting to see them moving away from the politics and hard business and more towards the creatives.

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