Birmingham’s bold cultural future

Councillor Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, reflects on an important week for Birmingham’s arts and cultural sector.

Over the past 12 months, Birmingham has been in the international spotlight as we hosted the best Commonwealth Games that this country has ever seen, alongside a six-month cultural festival that showed off our city’s wonderful diversity and the rich talents of our citizens.

Now, we are building on the successes of the Games by growing and strengthening our cultural and arts sector, creating attractive jobs and improving our city’s reputation around the country and around the world.

This week has seen a number of exciting and important announcements. On Tuesday, it was finally announced, after much speculation, that Steven Knight, the man behind Peaky Blinders, is going to open a new television and film production facility in Digbeth.

Digbeth Loc. Studios will be open from the summer, creating 760 jobs and building a long-term cultural legacy for Birmingham by welcoming major blue-chip brands to the multimedia headquarters. Birmingham City Council has invested £1.3 million in the project, and a range of exciting productions, including MasterChef and BBC drama This Town, are already lined up for the studios.

Last week, the BBC’s plans for its new headquarters at the former Typhoo Tea Factory were approved, securing the Corporation’s long-term future in our city. This was a huge vote of confidence in Digbeth’s burgeoning creative quarter, which will provide a catalyst for the wider regeneration and development of the area as a hub for media and creativity.

At the Cabinet Meeting earlier this week, we passed a report which sets out the commissioning of cultural activities for the next three years, which will provide £2.9m of funding per year for arts and cultural activities. This fund helped arts organisations through the pandemic, and these organisations are still feeling the impacts of this, exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis.

This funding will help to secure the future of organisations such as the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Birmingham Royal Ballet, and will provide a boost to the new Cultural Festival which will be held each year. 

The Games shone a positive light on the city’s youth, energy and creativity and these exciting new announcements will build on that success. Birmingham’s cultural star continues to rise, and I am proud that BCC is playing a key role in making this a reality.

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