Pulling the brands together - a creative director for Birmingham? the bloggers start to talk

Stef Lewandowski has blogged on the Design Week Article he was quoted in, Would appointing a creative director solve Birmingham's image problems? The article and the ideas being thrown around from it have started a welcome discussion in Birmingham's creative community and it's bloggers, especially linked to the Big City Plan and the options for Digbeth.

Here's a few snippets from the Design Week article.

'It would have to be an eclectic, embracing, inclusive person for it to be a success. If it was a disciplinarian, it just wouldn't work.' Wolff Olins founder Michael Wolff is describing the ideal qualities for a creative director of Birmingham - a theoretical job at present, but one which creative groups in the city hope will soon become a reality.

Lewandowski says his idea of a creative director would be someone who could represent the user-experience of the city, while the planners get on with planning it. He also points out that cities that engage with design are more financially successful - they're able to attract investment and retain graduates. It is clear that a key role of a city creative director would involve promoting the city's brand offer, whatever that might be.

Saville says, 'Cities don't have logos - does London have a logo? Does New York? Where would you put a logo?' Instead, he came up with the concept of 'transforming Manchester from the first industrial city into the original modern city', defining the city by its story and history.

Jon Bounds, from Birmingham's Not Shit, has shared his view. It's a view many of us probably share not least with the stamping of the corporate identity of Birmingham City Council, it's logo, onto everything.

“I want to stop being embarrassed by Birmingham, like in the way you’re embarrassed by dad dancing.”, “it’s like it’s organised by the PTA”, “no-one wants to say anything because they [the organisers] are so nice”.

Capsule Blog which reposted the comment by Jon Bounds also suggests opportunities for regenerating Digbeth which tie in to the creative lead a Creative Director brings to the regeneration of Birmingham. Suggestions include supporting the growth of creative quarters organically and not forgetting the cashpoints, the signage and the infrastructure.

Graphiquillan has also picked up on some of these themes with a post titled, finding the creative needles in birmingham’s haystack.

The outcome of the City Council’s creative policy legacy is that becoming a truly creative city, one that’s recognisable as such on a national and global scale, is dictatorial rather than evolutional. It’s plastic. It screams nothing in particular. It mutters “Oh, there’s some stuff going on somewhere. But, hey - don’t worry about that, come to the Bullring!”.

A creative director and their role outside of the council led array of organisations seems to be the way people are thinking. The council needs to provide the freedom and canvas on which the creative community builds and acts but it needs to make sure it does this without it's hand of corporate control sucking away the genuine innovation and creativity. Birmingham's self belief and can do attitude will achieve it's aims and bring in visitors, participants, the creative community, continue the development of industry to creative industry itself without the need to be stamped Birmingham City Council.


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