Birmingham announces plans for Commonwealth Games cultural festivities.
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games bid team have unveiled the initial concepts and themes of the cultural programme which will run in conjunction with the Games should the city win the right to stage them. Taking the annual Birmingham Weekender festival as its cultural blueprint, the programme will comprise a blend of traditional and contemporary arts from throughout both the region and the wider Commonwealth, aiming to showcase Birmingham 2022’s urban, contemporary and digital vision through music, dance, urban sports, food, film and photography.
It will feature collaborations between local artists and regional communities who will work with a diverse range of community and international partners to create artistic works, from major commissions to showcases in local parks and streets. The programme will embrace all Commonwealth cultures, reaching out to incorporate strands from across each of the 71 competing nations and territories.
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 throughout the city, the Birmingham 2022 programme will be centred on the city’s four principal squares, with a satellite hub at the National Exhibition Centre and with an Urban Street Festival providing a bridge between sports and culture.
The Festival Squares – Victoria Square, Centenary Square, Chamberlain Square and Brindleyplace – will be the beating heart of Birmingham 2022, surrounded by the city’s major cultural institutions such as Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Town Hall, Symphony Hall, Library of Birmingham, REP Theatre, and Ikon Gallery, all of which will be engaged in hosting the cultural programme.
During Games time the squares will come alive with activities including Sport in the Squares (based around 3×3 basketball in Victoria Square, where hundreds of performances will occur), the start and finish of the marathon and road cycling races and the Urban Street Festival (to include demonstrations of skateboarding and BMX). There will also be giant screens transmitting the sporting action, with stages hosting live acts and a Culture Catwalk curated by young community leaders.
Fans, spectators and visitors should experience a carnival atmosphere, with the city centre’s main pedestrian arteries interconnecting with the squares, helping generate energy and passion across the city for the duration of the Games.
At the NEC, where boxing, judo, table tennis and wrestling are scheduled to take place, an indoor fan zone will bring together ticket holders and other fans at a 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 medallists and cultural icons. High energy performances and talent showcases of dance, music and lifestyle sports will be coupled with taster sessions for fans to try alternative sports, making the venue a hive of energy throughout the Games.
The Urban Street Festival will act as the bridge between sport and culture for Birmingham 2022, extending the cultural programme into the city’s 7,800 streets and 60 principle parks. The festival will bring 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 that celebrates youth and diversity, incorporating Commonwealth culture both already present in the city through its diaspora and cultural strands brought from the Commonwealth nations to celebrate the Games.