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City communities connect with Birmingham Shakespeare heritage

Opening up Shakespeare's legacy to all Birmingham people
University of Birmingham vice-chancellor Professor Sir David Eastwood and Birmingham City Council leader Cllr Ian Ward view the city's First Folio
Published: Friday, 18th January 2019

Community representatives from across Birmingham had a exciting preview of a major new project which will unlock the city’s forgotten Shakespearean heritage.

'Everything to Everybody' is aimed at restoring the world’s first great people’s Shakespeare Library to everyone in the city.

The evening included a chance to see the only First Folio in the world bought for comprehensive (including working-class) education, as well as artwork by Salvador Dali, costume designs by Jean Cocteau and much more.

University of Birmingham Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir David Eastwood and Birmingham City Council leader Councillor Ian Ward welcomed guests to the event at the Library of Birmingham, where they learned more about the collection and plans for the ‘Everything to Everybody’ project.

The University and Council are collaborating on a £1 million plan to revive the city’s almost-forgotten Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library (BSML) - the first, oldest and largest Shakespeare collection in any public library in the world and one of the UK’s most important cultural assets.

The project unites the Shakespeare archive with the George Dawson Collection (GDC) - a wealth of documents relating to the nonconformist preacher, lecturer and activist, who founded the Library as part of a pioneering ‘Civic Gospel’ which helped make 19th-century Birmingham the world’s most progressive modern city.

Councillor Ian Ward commented: “This is a fantastic project aimed at making Shakespeare more accessible to Birmingham’s residents and visitors. The Bard wrote for everybody so his legacy must not be hidden away; we must ensure George Dawson’s vision is fulfilled, with an extensive programme of community-led activities so people of all backgrounds can rediscover Birmingham’s Shakespeare Library and make it mean something to everyone.”

Full details can be found here.

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