Birmingham Weekender to embrace 2022 Commonwealth Games bid

Birmingham Weekender

Just 22 days ahead of the city’s largest arts festival, Birmingham Weekender, the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games bid team has unveiled its cultural programme for the Games.

Taking place from 22 – 24 September, the festival will feature a blend of traditional and contemporary arts from the region and the wider Commonwealth.

The cultural programme will showcase Birmingham 2022’s urban, contemporary and digital vision through movement, dance, hip hop, urban sports, music, food, film and photography.

The programme will be inspired by collaborations between the city’s internationally-renowned resident artists and the huge talent that exists across all of the region’s communities. They will work with a diverse range of community and international partners to create artistic works ranging from major commissions to hundreds of performances on the Victoria Square basketball stage and showcases in local parks and streets.

The programme is set to embrace all Commonwealth cultures and Birmingham will be reaching out to the 71 competing nations to incorporate cultural strands from across the Commonwealth.

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 across the city the Birmingham 2022 programme will be centred on the city’s four principal squares, with a satellite hub at the NEC and the Urban Street Festival providing a bridge between sports and culture.

Gary Topp, Chief executive of Culture Central, said: “We have taken Birmingham Weekender as our cultural blueprint.

“At Birmingham Weekender we encourage the city to dance together in Victoria Square; to experience Birmingham Royal Ballet in the Bullring and classical music in a car park and see the city’s artists and communities perform on the Culture Catwalk in the city centre.

“We welcome world famous Sufi singer, Hans Raj Hans to the Town Hall on Sunday and our major community parade will feature Harminder, a moving mechanical elephant. Clash of Drums, a night time feast of sound and spectacular fireworks will bring Eastside Park alive on Saturday night.”

Festival Squares will provide the beating heart of Birmingham in Victoria Square, Centenary Square, Chamberlain Square and Brindleyplace.

During Games time, the Squares will come alive with activities including Sport in the Squares based around 3×3 basketball in Victoria Square; the start and finish of the Marathon and Road Cycling, the Urban Street Festival with demonstrations of skateboarding and BMX, live sites with giant screens of the sporting action with stages hosting live acts and a Culture Catwalk curated by young community leaders.

The Festival Squares will be connected to the indoor fan zone at the NEC that will bring together ticket holders and fans at a showcase live site that interacts with the proceedings in the city centre. A giant screen will show sporting action, enhanced by commentary from an MC and interviews with sports medallists and cultural icons on stage.

High energy performances and talent showcases of dance, music and lifestyle sports are set to be coupled with taster sessions for fans to try alternative sports. With Boxing, Judo, Table Tennis and Wrestling scheduled to take place at the NEC, the venue will be a hive of energy throughout the Games.

The Urban Street Festival will act as the bridge between sport and culture for Birmingham 2022 and will extend the cultural programme into the 7,800 streets and 60 parks of the city, bringing together urban street-sport activity and sport 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 and diverse demographic.

Fiona Allan, Chief Executive of the Birmingham Hippodrome theatre, said: “It’s very important for Birmingham to be bidding for the Commonwealth Games to be hosted here – we are a city of global citizens, with a world class sporting and cultural offer.

“It’s our chance to demonstrate what an incredibly friendly and exciting city we have become, a confident city capable of hosting major international events, with plenty to occupy tourists during their stay. Birmingham Hippodrome is proud to support the bid and look forward to working in partnership to showcase our great city to the world.”