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:

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 21.23.17

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.


chrysophobia #2Darby

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.

Grand Union’s new exhibition, Dreams Time Free by Mat Jenner, launches on Friday (20th February.)

They also have an artist in residence, Phil Hession, who will be at Grand Union throughout February. He will be cycling throughout Digbeth for the duration of his five-week residency, touring his DIY record cutting lathe by bicycle trailer. He will be making field recordings of the soundscape of Digbeth, teaching traditional Irish song, and performing these songs within public spaces.

More information on Grand Union’s website.
Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 15.47.19 Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 15.47.29


Join Fam Art Collective on 28th February for their new show – a celebration of their first anniversary.

FAM is a Birmingham-based Fine Art Collective made up of seven artists all with opposing practices. Their work is distinct and their shows are diverse. Always promising a range of media from Film and Music to Graphic Design and Installation, Sculpture and Painting to Performance and Textiles.
Their shows centre around the themes of cultural diversity, opposing ideologies and  the effects of globalisation on people and Art.

More about FAM on their website.


The Stirchley Sessions are a series of four untutored drawing sessions using a clothed portrait model running on a monthly basis in the relaxed and informal environment of The British Oak pub in Stirchley.

These sessions cost £7 per person per session and will be taking place from 7.00pm – 9.30pm on the following dates:

  • Thursday 5th March 2015
  • Thursday 2nd April 2015
  • Thursday 7th May 2015
  • Thursday 4th June 2015

Please note that these life drawing sessions are for age 18 years and over only.

Book your place through Eventbrite.