Birmingham - Capital of Culture 2013?

July 2009 saw the launch of a UK competition to find the nation's first 'City of Culture',The race is on to find UK's first ‘City of Culture’ for 2013. The winning city would be the centre of national attention in 2013 with the opportunity to host events including BBC Sports Personality of the Year, The Brits and the Stirling Prize.

The UK City of Culture follows the success of Liverpool's award of European Capital of Culture in 2008 with the successful city expected to benefit economically and socially leaving a lasting legacy of it's title.

Birmingham launched it's bid to be the city of culture in December 2009 with the bid managed through the Birmingham Cultural Partnership (BCP). Birmingham was selected alongside Derry, Norwich and Sheffield in February 2010 in the shortlist of finalists from the 29 submissions. The decision on the winning city will be made in the summer with the shortlisted cities having until the end of May to submit their final bids.

The question, as Birmingham explodes into a cultural frenzy aimed at showing why it should be the City of Culture, is what is culture and what value will it have to the citizens of Birmingham.

It could help with events where needed, for example by helping people find venues, but it shouldn't try to impose a theme or particular definition of "culture".

I would assume that our big institutions such as the orchestra or Birmingham Royal Ballet would want to be involved, and the authorities might need to work closely with them. But the City of Culture year should be open to everyone that wants to join in.

One thing is crucial, it should not be a case of just traditional conceptions of culture in theatre and ballet for example, not that we shouldn't celebtrate the great theatre, music, drama and ballet found within the city in the Hippodrome, CBSO, Birmingham Royal Ballet among others.

“Great heavy metal bands and reggae bands have come out of this area. So I’d be hoping to get UB40 and Robert Plant involved in our plans for being City of Culture.”

There will be celebrations in 2013 regardless of the Bid with the opening of the new Library of Birmingham, a new Autumn Festival and special exhibition of the Anglo Saxon Hoard at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery along with A City in the Making, a new gallery in the museum celebrating the history of Birmingham and its people.

Birmingham is perhaps unduly modest considering it's proud heritage, diversity and culture both in the high arts and in the creative groups and activities city wide. The City of Culture bid, if nothing else, is a great chance for the city to shout about and be proud of what makes it the great place it is and also the fantastic mix of culture that takes place in the city.

The bid so far has shown the great mix and opportunity for everyone to be involved with the Big Culture Blog,, through to the search for Birmingham's favourite buildings, and this mix of everything that is good about Birmingham in it's rich diversity must surely stand Birmingham in good stead to win the City of Culture bid.

For a consideration of Arts and Culture in Regeneration there is a useful report produced as a literature review of work on arts and culture in regeneration for a World Summit on the subject held in Newcastle in 2006

The City of Culture bid website can be accessed at:


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