I like how Ruth Ward puts it in her blog. Cultural Heroes is the right phrase for it.
I’m proud of the cultural heritage of the city I currently call home. I’m also proud of the cultural diversity of Birmingham.
My cultural heroes aren’t arranged into any particular order, they’re on here in the order in which they popped into my head.
1) Stan’s Cafe. I love the work they do, I love that they’ve taken over the A.E Harris factory and are using it as a base for their work. I also love that they’re coming to Greenbelt with a version of “Of all the people in all the world“. I’m sure the greenbelt punters are going to go a little bit mad for Stan’s Cafe.
2) The MAC. Midlands art centre. I love that the MAC is having a refit. I can’t wait to see what they do with the space. I love that talent isn’t a barrier to booking the space. Some of the best and worst cultural experiences in my time in the West Midlands have been at the MAC. The worst was a musical based on the story of Dracula. It had a lesbian song called “Let’s be friends”. (It ended up sounding like “Lesbi friends”.) Really horrific. My friend Roz and I sat in the bar after refusing to go back in for the second half. Happy days.
3) Fierce Festival. Edgy and weird. Fierce always feels like someone reached into my brain and rummaged about and found ideas that should never have been used. It’s innovative, uses non-traditional spaces around the region and does stuff that really gets under your skin.
4) Ikon Gallery. One of my favourite places in all the world. I love their rolling programme of events and exhibitions. I love that the art spills out across the city and pops up in odd places. I love that they’re willing to embrace the brand spanking and new but also toss in something old and unexpected.
I know they’re not strictly a group of people doing the same thing but it’s the hot house conditions and the bubbling creativity that goes on there that I adore. These two venues make sure that Digbeth is a hub of digital and creative energy for the city. If Cannon Hill Park is the lungs of the city then Digbeth is the brain.
6) Barg. BARG is an online/offline, real/unreal community for people who love games- playing and creating. The projects are wonderful and, probably, will save the world one day.
So, there you go, my very personal list of cultural stuff I love in Birmingham. I’ll probably remember stuff I’ve missed when I click publish, so I’ll come back when I remember more.