On a stifling morning two weeks ago, I went on a long overdue exploration of the Jewellery Quarter. There was a jazz band playing in St Paul’s Square and people were already lazing on blankets on the grass. I started my journey at the stylish Saint Kitchen café. Who better to meet there than Joe Schuppler, founder of Independent Birmingham, a blog and rewards card championing independents that is just about to celebrate its first anniversary.

Joe went to University in Liverpool. There, he made friends with the founders of Independent Liverpool. After finishing, he returned home to the West Midlands. Having enjoyed exploring the independent shops, cafes, bars and restaurants in Liverpool, he was eager to discover similar in the second city. He asked his friends whether he could start the same scheme in Birmingham. They said yes.

The Independent Birmingham website is a great central point to discover places to eat, drink and shop that you may have missed. Joe is eager that the website is not just a listing or reviews site. He also takes all the photographs. He says:

Instead of being a food critic I tell stories to make people inspired to visit. It’s a personal journey through Birmingham, but also an invitation for people to join in.

As independents don’t necessarily have the pulling power of the big names, Joe thought the card was the perfect way to get people in – supporting independents and also be rewarded.

Food independent Birmingham

Having built up over the last months, the card currently boasts offers from almost 40 independents (including cafes, bars, pubs, restaurants and shops across the city) with more being added each week.

So why should we all get an Independent Birmingham card? Joe says:

It’s the perfect way for you to rediscover your city, support local businesses and be rewarded at the same time.

The Independent Birmingham card is available here.


We Are The Loft Bham

‘We are The Loft Birmingham’ is a celebration of the work and achievements of The Loft, marking the conclusion of a six month residency on Priory Walk as a pilot project in a pop-up in retail space.

This will be the last exhibition at The Loft and it features a selection of past work from new/emerging West Midlands based artists ‘taking a trip down memory lane’ with highlights of previously exhibited work at The Loft.

For more information visit their website, twitter or facebook.

The exhibition launches Saturday 2nd August – 2pm – 7pm.


Birmingham Literature Festival returns later this year for ten days of high quality literature events, conversations and activities. Festival events already on sale include:

They’re currently looking for volunteers to work on the festival:

What they are looking for:

People who are passionate about literature of any kind, who are confident working in a team (sometimes under pressure or at a relatively fast pace) and people who have initiative and drive. They don’t mind whether you have previous voluntary experience, how old you are (as long as you are over the age of 18 by 1 October 2014) or whether you have any qualifications in English or creative writing.

There are several opportunities available:

Event Stewards –includes ushering & making sure audience members know where to go, assisting where necessary with set-up and the breakdown of events, assisting with catering and looking after writers and speakers (where necessary).

Event Runners –includes assisting with the logistics and production of events, moving props and books between venues and meeting writers and speakers at train station/car park/hotel and showing them to their events.

Photo & Videoing Assistants – photographing and videoing the events to create podcasts/a digital record of the Festival.

Ticket and Book Sales Assistants – assisting with the book sales for each event and ticket sales where necessary.

For more information please visit the Birmingham Literature Festival website.

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I CHOOSE Birmingham



Back in October last year, we wrote about a brand new newsletter hitting inboxes across Birmingham. Since then, ICHOOS Birmingham has gone through a facelift courtesy of Claire Hartley, and now the weekly publication is known as I CHOOSE Birmingham.

After a short publishing break I CHOOSE Birmingham returns to subscribers inboxes this Friday. The free e-magazine highlights the very best things to do in and around Brum and includes restaurants, exhibitions, galleries events and much more.

It’s the creation of Tom Cullen the multi award-winning former editor of ShortList.com. It’s now almost 50 issues old and boasts over 3,000 subscribers across the city.

You can subscribe and read previous issues at www.ichoosebirmingham.com

Warwick Bar Fete



The Warwick Bar Fete returns for its third edition this weekend, at a time when the area is going from strength to strength.

This year there will be a bit of a bicycle theme, with Vivid Projects showing a series of bike powered art experiments and holding a bike tea salon. The fete will also see the return of the Bicycle Basket Bazaar (last seen at Flatpack 2013). An array of retailers will be cramming their wares into bike-baskets and pannier-racks – as well vendors selling handmade and homemade goods and vintage wares.

Grand Union, Stryx, Edible Eastside, Harris Moore Canvases, RoguePlay Theatre and Centrala (Polish Expats Association’s new space) will also be open with programmes packed with workshops and activities for budding gardeners, filmmakers, painters and dancers, as well as exhibitions, film screenings, acoustic music and aerial acrobatic performances.

The full schedule for the day can be found on the Warwick Bar website.

WERK_LyonCallOut_ Flyer01

Fête des Lumières de Lyon and WERK have put out a call out for an artist or organisation based in Birmingham to produce one or multiple Monumental Light Objects (meaning a light object which will need to reach between approximately 4 to 7 metres high to ensure visibility for the visitors), for a key central location in Lyon during the Festival of Lights event from 5th to 8th December 2014 and with the opportunity to exhibit the work within the Longbridge Light Festival in 2015, if considered appropriate by WERK.

This Call Out is open to any individual artist, collective, collaboration, organisation, lighting designer, lighting engineer, cinematographer, set designer, designer, graphic designer, filmmaker, architect, artist and scientist but the individual or group must include a lighting or projected image professional, as well as a management role to produce the installation. The co-commissioners are seeking proposals for the conception with a maximum budget of 15,000 Euros (including VAT).

For full information on the Call Out, please email Sophia Tarr WERK Project Manaer: sophiatarr@gmail.com or alternatively see here.  Deadline for applications is August 8th 12 noon.

The Swimmers 3. Credit Attilio Fiumarella

The beautiful Moseley Road Baths was one of the first public facilities built in Balsall Heath. Next year Birmingham City Council intend to close the Baths permanently, following the opening of a new sports facility.

To highlight the plight of the pool, Birmingham-based photographer Attilio Fiumarella is looking for 100 swimmers from across Birmingham to take part in a one-off photo event on Sunday 20 July. The 100 Swimmers will see the Gala Pool filled with swimmers, photography fans, heritage enthusiasts and community supporters captured in a final powerful and thought-provoking image, emulating the famous Terracotta Army sculpture of Ancient China. The images will also complete a community photographic project entitled The Swimmers.

Attilio Fiumarella is a recipient of the first Some Cities bursary scheme. He has been working to document and celebrate the under-threat Grade-II Moseley Road Baths building over the past few months.

If you are interested in taking part or would like more information, email the100swimmers@gmail.com


Late last week I caught up with Ben Waddington, Director of Still Walking, and we chatted about some of the upcoming events for this month’s festival. It’s going to be the fifth edition of Still Walking, and by the 3rd August when the festival ends, it will have been Ben’s fourth Still Walking Festival in 12 months.

At the time of writing, the Still Walking programme has only been online for 24 hours and already several of the events have sold out. Including Birmingham Boscage, featured in my ‘top picks’ below (crossing my fingers and toes for a re-run of this one.)

The festival is spread across the two last weekends of July, packed with walks, tours and gatherings. For this edition, festival-goers can run, cycle and – of course, walk – around the city and see Birmingham in a new light.

Curious minds looking to experience something new can book onto events which include a cinematic run through city woodland at twilight, a cycling tour of Birmingham’s lost cinemas, a tour with promoter Dave Travis of 1980s alternative music haunts, an exploration of Ikon Gallery’s humble origins, and an attempt to get purposefully lost in the city’s ever changing landscape.

Below are a few of my top picks.

For the full programme please see www.stillwalking.org. They tweet too, if you’d like to keep up to date with their happenings @StillWalkers

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