Birmingham’s Culture Strategy – “Digbeth is key to the city’s future success”
Birmingham has hosted more world, international and European sports events than any other European city, and was still voted as the most boring city in Europe. Perhaps as a reaction to this news, Birmingham City Council has recently announced a new culture strategy for the city, encompassing arts, museums, heritage, sport, sporting events, libraries, archives, creative industries, film and tourism.
Cultural activities encourage self and group expression and provoke reactions at an emotional, spiritual and intellectual level, improving the quality of life in the city and a sense of identity and belonging. Cultural activities can also deliver a range of other outcomes including health and wellbeing, social and community cohesion, civic engagement, economic impact, development of transferable skills and improved environment.
It is particularly evident in Digbeth that culture can be the key to cohesion between communities, providing opportunities for residents to volunteer, meet new people, and have fun together while reflecting on past and present heritage.
In the strategy document, Eastside is recognised as one of the two cultural quarters in Birmingham, which is in-keeping with Digbeth’s recent appearance in the BBC’s Culture Show. Our city produces the greatest number of creative graduates in the UK outside of London, and Birmingham City University’s decision to build their new campus at Eastside, including the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, simply reinforces Digbeth as a cultural centre.
Eastside is the city’s major regeneration focus and is the home of our creative sector. The Big City Plan will act to amplify the creative cluster in Digbeth, to help it thrive and shout out its successes.
The Big City Plan does have a focus on Digbeth, but it is widely believed that this document will be rejected by the new council in April 2012. It is up to us as residents to ensure our voices – and Digbeth – are not ignored.
The strategy seems to suggest that Birmingham is great, but nobody knows it – Birmingham is having an identity crisis. We, as a city, and as individual ambassadors for Digbeth and Birmingham need to keep telling people how great we are. Otherwise, we will fall victim to out-dated preconceptions of Birmingham.
Digbeth is key to the city’s future success.
Finally, the document also states that: “Residents would like more localised facilities and activities which can best be addressed by working with trusted partners in the community.” This hopefully means that Birmingham City Council will be even more supportive of Digbeth Residents Association in future, particularly as we are still awaiting an outcome to our application for Community Chest funding…
To read the strategy document in full, please visit the Birmingham Culture website.