Soaking up the fun

South Birmingham arts festival returns for third year.

Where do you find a comedy show with a free loaf of bread to take home, a hair salon hosting a new talent showcase with the city’s Poet Laureate or a one woman cabaret involving communal chocolate eating? The answer, Art Soak, the community based festival now in its third year, which brings free and affordable events to the shops, pubs and public spaces of South Birmingham from Friday 14t– Sunday 16th March 2014.

Developed by Arts Forum Selly Oak and Argy Bhaji Productions and part of Birmingham City Council’s Cultivating Culture season, Art Soak features an ambitious and diverse programme including exhibitions and art installations, music and theatre, story-telling, circus skills and craft workshops for families.

Organiser Sabra Khan of Argy Bhaji said: “At its heart Art Soak is about raising the profile of local artists and bringing them to the attention of the community.  It’s a great chance for people to try new things because events are literally on their doorstep so there’s no need to trek into town or spend a fortune.  By involving local businesses and bringing colourful and entertaining activity to local High Streets, Art Soak generates a much- needed boost and feelgood factor for neighbourhoods.”

The full programme can be found at but highlights include:

Friday 14th March, 5.30pm. Free, limited spaces. Slow Commute presented by Stirchley Happenings – take a narrowboat home from Gas St Basin on the Birmingham and Worcester Canal to the sounds of gypsy jazz, stopping on request at University, Selly Oak, Stirchley for Bournville and Kings Norton Junction.

Friday 14th March, 7.30pm. Free University of Birmingham Showcase – Joanna Skelt, Birmingham Poet Laureate presents up and coming talent including Tamar Williams, winner of the Young Storyteller of the Year, singer songwriter Max Merrick-Wren and poets from the Creative Arts course.

 Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th March. £5, Loaf Cookery School . Comedy, Bread and a Cuppa – join master baker and stand-up comedian, Albert Smith, for a comedy show with a difference. And go home with a loaf.

Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th March. Various events for families and children including the Six Word Story Sunshine Ship from Reel Access at the Maypole,  Circus skills workshop at Selly Oak Park, Felting a Mother’s Day Masterpiece and ‘Tales from Far and Wide’ – story-telling for families at Yardley Wood Library with National Story-Telling Laureate, Katrice Horsley.

Saturday 15th March, 12 noon & 2pm. Free, booking necessary. Tours of BBC Drama Village courtesy of Film Birmingham,

Sunday 16th March. Ingot Studios, Stirchley  £5 . Under Construction – a chance to see works in progress from local artists including two plays about living in Bournville Five Miles South by 17 year old Young Rep playwright, Grace Barrington, and Chocolate -the Cabaret by the Bone Ensemble.

Sunday 16th March. Barbara’s Jamboree – Art SOAK Finale, The Red Lion, Kings Heath, 7pm, £5. Join Barbara Nice for an evening of live variety entertainment, sideshows and flipping good fun.