Full steam ahead with for-Wards

Community Outreach launched to discover Birmingham sounds.


for-Wards is a large-scale, two-year project which will discover the sounds of Birmingham by working with composers and local communities. These sounds will then be used to create unique pieces of music to represent each district which is made up of four wards.

From Monday 14th November, each of the five year one composers will head out into the first five districts: Selly Oak, Hodge Hill, Northfield, Perry Barr and Edgbaston. They will work directly with community groups which have been carefully selected by Outreach Coordinators Number 11 Arts.

Year one composers are: Hip Hop practitioner Juice Aleem, experimental pop legends Pram, jazz musician Percy Pursglove, newcomer Rowen Coleing and noise god Justin K Broadrick (Godflesh/Napalm Death) and the project’s Creative Director, composer and pianist Bobbie-Jane Gardner.

Community groups include a volunteer group at Martineau Gardens in Edgbaston, Handsworth Choir, Chad Vale School, Handsworth Wood Girls School, Women’s Empowerment Group in Hodge Hill, Naf Café in Northfield and many more, offering diverse cross section.

As well as discovering the sounds, the aim is for the communities to help to shape the project and raise awareness of the diverse cultures within Birmingham.

Bobbie-Jane Gardner said, “I’m so excited to be running this ambitious citywide project and I still can’t believe it has become a reality! It’s a real privilege to be on the ground working together with community groups in Selly Oak District to write new music about what it means to live in the area. I am especially curious about the ways in which found sounds will be embedded into the piece and especially how we go about composing music about Bournville or Willy-Wonka-ville.”

Justin K Broadrick added, “Since first discussing the for-Wards project I’ve been thinking about how I will explore a tapestry of emotions through music and found-sounds within the area that I grew up. I would expect there to be expressions of light and shade from my own experiences and other emotions that will colour this project coming directly from the communities that we collaborate with.”