Birmingham Weekender encapsulates the spirit of Birmingham’s cultural programme for 2022 Commonwealth Games

Tuesday 5th of September 2017 01:42 PM

  • Just 22 days before Birmingham Weekender begins on 22 September, the Birmingham 2022 bid team unveils its cultural plans for the Games
  • Festival Squares will be the beating heart of Birmingham 2022
  • World-renowned cultural organisations are backing Birmingham’s urban, contemporary and digital vision

Just 22 days ahead of Birmingham’s largest arts festival, Birmingham Weekender (from 22 – 24 September), the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games bid team unveils its cultural programme for the Games.

Comprising a dazzling blend of traditional and contemporary arts from the region and the wider Commonwealth, the cultural programme will showcase Birmingham 2022’s urban, contemporary and digital vision through movement, dance, hip hop, urban sports, music, food, film and photography.

The cultural programme will be inspired by collaborations between the city’s internationally-renowned resident artists and the huge talent that exists across all of the region’s communities. They will work with a diverse range of community and international partners to create artistic works ranging from: major commissions; to hundreds of performances on the Victoria Square basketball stage; to showcases in local parks and streets. The programme will embrace all Commonwealth cultures and Birmingham will be reaching out to the 71 competing nations to incorporate cultural strands from across the Commonwealth.

“We have taken Birmingham Weekender as our cultural blueprint.” explained Gary Topp, Chief executive of Culture Central, “At Birmingham Weekender we encourage the city to dance together in Victoria Square; to experience Birmingham Royal Ballet in the Bullring and classical music in a car park and see the city’s artists and communities perform on the Culture Catwalk in the city centre. We welcome world famous Sufi singer, Hans Raj Hans to the Town Hall on Sunday and our major community parade will feature Harminder, a moving mechanical elephant. Clash of Drums, a night time feast of sound and spectacular fireworks will bring Eastside Park alive on Saturday night.”

Co-ordinated by Culture Central, in cooperation with institutions including Birmingham Museums, Birmingham Hippodrome, Sampad South Asian Arts Organisation and DanceXchange, and working with arts and communities organisations from across the city the Birmingham 2022 programme will be centred on the city’s four principal squares, with a satellite hub at the NEC and the Urban Street Festival providing a bridge between sports and culture.

The beating heart of Birmingham

Festival Squares will provide the beating heart of Birmingham in Victoria Square, Centenary Square, Chamberlain Square and Brindleyplace. These buzzing locations are surrounded by major cultural institutions such as the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Town Hall, Symphony Hall, Library of Birmingham and the world-famous REP Theatre that will all be engaged in hosting the cultural programme.

During Games time, the Squares will be the physical and spiritual heart of Birmingham, as they come alive with activities including: Sport in the Squares based around 3x3 basketball in Victoria Square; the start and finish of the Marathon and Road Cycling; the Urban Street Festival with demonstrations of skateboarding and BMX; live sites with giant screens of the sporting action with stages hosting live acts and a Culture Catwalk curated by young community leaders.

Fans, spectators and visitors will experience a carnival atmosphere with a ‘hub and spoke’ approach incorporating the main pedestrian arteries that interconnect the squares, which will help generate energy and passion across the city throughout the Games.

The leading live entertainment venue in Europe

The Festival Squares will be connected to the indoor fan zone at the NEC that will bring together ticket holders and fans at a showcase live site that mirrors and interacts with the proceedings in the city centre. A giant screen will show sporting action, enhanced by commentary from an MC and interviews with sports medallists and cultural icons on stage. High energy performances and talent showcases of dance, music and lifestyle sports will be coupled with taster sessions for fans to try alternative sports.
With Boxing, Judo, Table Tennis and Wrestling scheduled to take place at the NEC, the venue will be a hive of energy throughout the Games.

The bridge between sport and culture

The Urban Street Festival will act as the bridge between sport and culture for Birmingham 2022 and will extend the cultural programme into the 7,800 streets and 60 parks of the city, bringing together urban street-sport activity and sport without boundaries together with music and lifestyle.

Integrated into the live sites and the Festival Squares, the Urban Street Festival and the preceding ‘Big Active Community’ project will have a focus on activities that appeal to Birmingham’s young, diverse and multicultural demographic.

The soul of the Commonwealth will be reflected in content celebrating youth and diversity, in a festival of sport, music, dance and street culture. This will incorporate Commonwealth culture both present in the city through its diaspora and incorporating cultural strands from the Commonwealth nations to celebrate the Games.

A track record of success and exceptional collaborations

Through all of this activity, Birmingham will create a confident, multidimensional and vibrant cultural programme to reflect and celebrate its cosmopolitan nature, energy and innovative mindset. The city already has a track record of successfully delivering major cultural programmes:

  •  London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games – Four Squares Festival
  • Rugby World Cup 2015 – East Side Park fan zone for 12,000 fans in partnership with the Birmingham Weekender Festival
  • Champions Trophy 2017 – Giant screens shared centre stage with dance and music from the Birmingham Mela, attracting crowds of 5,000
  • Birmingham Weekender festival and International Dance Festival – built upon the extensive creative and technical experience of Birmingham’s culture team

With Coventry bidding to become UK City of Culture in 2021 and Nottingham bidding to become European City of Culture 2023, Birmingham 2022 could help the Midlands achieve the cultural recognition it now deserves.