Well done Birmingham for making the short list for City of Culture 2013!
We’re up against Derry, Norwich and Sheffield. (We’re going to take them down)
I’m supporting Birmingham to win. And I’m whipping for other support for Birmingham. I know that already people have responded strongly as their city or pair’s of cities have been voted out by the selection panel.
I think it’d be nice, er, noice if Birmingham were to win. It’d be a great opportunity to show off what the city has to offer. Plus it’d be nice for Birmingham not to be a punchline but to be a headline of something awesome. (Mind you if we win it we’ll probably spend the whole year saying “Birmingham is the city of culture, no really!”)
I’d like to see Birmingham try some little arts projects. We’ve already got some fairly huge projects that happen naturally through the year and we don’t need to beef those up any more than they already are. I’m looking at you; artsfest, fierce (but that breaks my own rule as it’s not regular but has a space in my head where it should happen each year but doesn’t always), and various large scale multicultural bits and bob happenings in public spaces (drummers, dancers, bollywood steps).
Birmingham doesn’t need Big Culture. It needs little stuff. One of the things I saw after I saw the thirteen hour epic Tantalus at the Barbican in London (around ten years ago or so) was the wonderful Ken Campbell (sadly no longer with us) tell the stories of Greek Myths on a table top. I loved that I’d spent over a hundred quid on a ticket for such an epic show that spread through a whole day and now I was standing shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the audience around a table with a master storyteller.
One of my favourite Birmingham Cultural moments was with Chris Green during a previous Fierce Festival. A performance in one of the dressing rooms of the Hippodrome. I was both audience and a performer.
In The Dresser an actor about to go on stage who is in need of a dresser. I get shown in to a dressing room by an attendant, have been brought in to help him out.
‘Hi,’ says Green from where he sits in front of the mirror, draped in a horrible silky dressing-gown, ‘thanks so much for coming, I’m really sorry you got roped into doing this. It’s such a nightmare,’
And at that point the scripting stops, there’s junk strewn around the room, there’s two sets of music playing, something is clearly required of me.
It was a wonderful experience of concocting a story with a genuine sense of complicity that is impossible to achieve in conventional theatre.
I spent time soothing his primadonna nerves and it was funny, moving and interesting and terrifying. (I could try and explain it but I was too much involved for it to be more than a series of flashes of moments, words and images)
I’m all for big collective experiences, big shows, big fireworks, big BIG B-I-G! But I’m also a strong lover of the small, the fleeting, the intimate, the transitory, the individual.
I hope that Birmingham shows that side of it’s nature.