Hail to thee, Brum Spirit

Global arts festival returns to Birmingham.

Global arts festival Brum Spirit made its return to Birmingham with two packed days of free music, arts, film and food at Moseley School of Art, Balsall Heath, across 23rd-24th July 2016.

The doors of the historic building were thrown open to the public to host the event which saw artists from across the world perform and exhibit their work in exploration of this year’s theme; We’re In This Together.

Curated by not for profit organization, Professional Incredibles, Brum Spirit 2016: We’re In This Together aims to unite communities whilst celebrating and exploring the thrills and challenges of sharing space in a changing world, through a summer of exciting arts events in the city.

Amongst the roster of international talent, the weekend saw live music from homegrown gawk-pop trio Kate Goes, Polish classical string quartet String Fantasy, and headliners Panorama Do Choro, joining the festival all the way from Sao Paolo, Brazil.

The weekend also featured thought-provoking art installations by Coventry University’s Hi-Lite Arts collective, breakdance workshops by Break Mission, “We Come In Peace” photography exhibition documenting Coventry’s refugee community, participatory forum theatre by Jungo Arts, and film screenings under the banner of Stickleback Cinema.

Empty Room Tours, led by Ben Waddington (Still Walking Festival), took attendees on a fascinating exploration of Moseley School of Art’s remarkable space, offering a rare glimpse into the history of the renowned Birmingham building.

In addition, Birmingham refugee workshop programme, Made Welcome, exhibited artworks made by Birmingham’s refugees, whilst the Real Junk Food Project Brum highlighted global issues surrounding sustainability and wastage, providing refreshments throughout the day with a pay-as-you-feel concept.

The highlight of Saturday’s celebration was a surreal parade throughout the venue onto Moseley Road, led by Brazilian and Brummie musicians, who played the earliest recorded carnival march, led by Kate Goes front woman Kate Thompson, who was dressed as Carmen Miranda for the occasion.

Formerly Espirito Brum, Brum Spirit has been delivering a colourful programme of bespoke global arts events in the city since 2010, and after taking a brief hiatus in 2015, returning this year with an even stronger line-up and poignant theme, which launched with a public art mural along the River Rea, Balsall Heath.

Professional Incredibles Director, Tessa Burwood, explains: “We chose the theme We’re in This Together” as it translates ‘tamojunto’, a Brazilian phrase often used by the artists in Birmingham and Brazil who communicate and co create work through Brum Spirit. Little did we know just how relevant this sentiment would be, in light of so many global events, both here in the UK and in Brazil, that threaten to divide communities. It’s more important than ever to champion all the things we have in common, and to create welcoming, secure contexts in which we can explore the everyday issues that affect all of our lives.

“Moseley School of Art is such a gorgeous building. It has been under the custodianship of a community who came to Birmingham as refugees from Uganda, and for 35 years they have looked after this treasure of Birmingham’s architectural offer. Opening the doors wide to people from all walks of life was a rare and unique privilege, and it was wonderful to reimagine the space with the help of such a talented and open minded group of artists, local residents and visitors. We are so grateful to everyone who got involved – we’re in this together.”

The next Brum Spirit 2016: We’re In This Together event will take place in September. For more information visit www.brumspirit.org