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Birmingham Royal Ballet at Future Cities Forum on dance sport ahead of the Commonwealth Games

Dancers from the Birmingham Royal Ballet and Acosta Danza perform in the world premiere of 24 choreography: Jorge Crecis (Photography by Tristram Kenton)

We are delighted to be welcoming the Birmingham Royal Ballet's Chief Operating Officer and Director Anna Williams back to our July levelling up forum at The Exchange.

During a Future Cities Forum debate on 'cultural infrastructure and tourism' early in the pandemic with Alexandra Palace's CEO Louise Stewart and the Joan Miro Foundation's Director Marko Daniel, Anna Williams commented:

'The funding (from government) is hugely welcome and more significant financially than expected.

‘One of the things I am most concerned about is the empty city centre…my thinking is how will we live again in cities, and how do we find the public confidence to enjoy them? How do we create cultural events where people can gather?

‘There are lots of issues about putting live performance on the streets – on security, flat floors for dancers etc to have ballet on the high street, but we need to talk together and collaborate widely. We are planning for live events to reconnect the city with culture and it’s very important how we connect with very diverse communities within the city limits post Covid-19.'

The ballet company is marking the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this July with Director Carlos Acosta bringing together three works for a triple bill presentation as part of the Birmingham International Dance Festival of 2022.

'On Your Marks' the company says 'celebrates the expressive energy and gravity-defying athleticism of the company's world-class dancers.

'Jorge Crecis created the dazzling 12 for Acosta Danza, Carlos Acosta’s company – and dancers from BRB and Acosta Danza will be teaming up for the first time to premiere a new version of this ‘dance-sport’ dive into the power of teamwork, retitled 24.

'Brilliant young Brazilian choreographer Juliano Nunes, whose recent pieces include commissions for NDT2 and Marie-Agnès Gillot, has created Interlinked, a new work inspired by the games. And to close, a dynamic, ecstatic ode to the power of nature and the glory of movement: Will Tuckett’s Lazuli Sky, set to John Adams’s irresistible Shaker Loops and premiered by BRB to great acclaim in 2020.'

Cultural vision for Birmingham

Birmingham City Council is now turning its attention to how the city can enhance its cultural offer while promoting it as a national and international destination, while it recovers from the pandemic.

The Visitor Destination Plan will capitalise on the huge opportunities that hosting the Commonwealth Games brings, not least the unprecedented television coverage to a worldwide audience this summer. Outdated perceptions of the city and region will be challenged as viewers and visitors will see how much Birmingham has transformed in recent years. Birmingham City Council says:

'There is a palpable buzz around the city, not just because of the Games and the Birmingham 2022 Festival, but also in the creativity and culture that has blossomed in neighbourhoods like Digbeth and the Jewellery Quarter.'

The plan will support the visitor economy by showcasing areas where Birmingham is strongest including our vibrant culinary scene, world class culture and festivals, history and heritage, award-winning family attractions, independent and designer shopping, our acclaimed Christmas experience and a growing screen tourism offer. The council says it will work with its partners to ensure that these ‘hero’ themes will be communicated effectively to consumer and travel trade markets and become better known both nationally and internationally.

Cllr Jayne Francis, cabinet member for digital, culture, heritage and tourism, said: “Birmingham is a city that is really going places – one of the youngest, most diverse and well-connected places in the country, with an incredibly impressive cultural sector and home to world-class venues and institutions.

“The eyes of the world will be on Birmingham during the Commonwealth Games and we want to stay in the spotlight, which is why we must do all we can to help the tourism and cultural sector recover from the pandemic and leave a real legacy from the Games. This city offers so much and we want to sell it to the world!”

Visitor numbers and economic impact have been increasing year on year until the coronavirus in 2020. The value of Birmingham’s visitor economy peaked at £7.9 billion in 2019 but has dropped by 56% in 2020 during the pandemic and is not expected to fully recover until 2024. Additionally, the market will be more competitive than ever before as all destinations around the world look to recover.

A new museum for Birmingham

There are also plans to develop a new Museum of Science & Industry. This would include a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)-themed programme of cultural activity across the city’s neighbourhoods, and the development of an international flagship museum of science and industry in Birmingham’s city centre.

The proposal being developed is for £300,000 to continue the feasibility work on a new museum and also to run four neighbourhood projects focused on community engagement in cultural activities.

Should a new museum operation be realised, Birmingham City Council says, it is anticipated that it could attract one million visitors, contributing £30m to the city and region via tourism and fundamentally increasing engagement in STEM via social history.

Birmingham’s residents and visitors are also being urged to take part in a public consultation to help shape the city’s creative vision for the next decade, which runs over June and July. Birmingham City Council is launching its Big Creative Birmingham Conversation to involve people across all the city’s communities in a series of events and workshops to see how an arts and culture sector can help citizens reach their full potential by working in the industry.

The council said:

'With the aim of being bolder and creating a better future for our generations to flourish and inspire their imagination, the city council along with its partners wants to refresh its strategic approach to creativity - starting with the Big Creative Conversation to help shape a vision and underpin a new strategy.'

Dancers from the Birmingham Royal Ballet perform Lazuli Sky choreography: Will Tuckett (Photo by Tristram Kenton).


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