Birmingham arts festival celebrates city’s diversity
One of the biggest events in Birmingham’s artistic and cultural year takes place over the course of this weekend.
Birmingham Weekender 2017 features more than 160 scheduled performances, 600+ artists and 26 new commissions.
The three-day festival is intended to demonstrate the diverse cultural ethos and spirit in the city and features performances and events from the city’s major arts organisations, independent artists and especially invited international artists. The programme covers dance, music, theatre, exhibitions and visual arts and talks.
To help people navigate the festival Birmingham Weekender organisers have collaborated with Mini Screen Pictures to create Culture Cake a new App, available to download now, which outlines what events are taking place when and where, along with interactive information about the performance, artists and venue.
For those less tech-savvy, a Birmingham Weekender 2017 brochure has also been produced and is available at major arts venues in the city including mac Birmingham, Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham REP, the Ikon, Town Hall Symphony Hall and Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.
Festival directors, Graham Callister (Birmingham Hippodrome) and Piali Ray (Sampad) said: “This promises to be a cultural extravaganza for the city over three days.
“With the fantastic news that Birmingham is the UK candidate to host the Commonwealth Games in 2022, Weekender is a real opportunity to showcase our world-class cultural offer which includes everything from the contemporary to the classical, from creative communities to internationally renowned artists.”
For dance lovers, treats include Square Dance in Victoria Square, delivered by the organisers of Moseley Folk Festival. Hour by hour, audiences can experience disco to folk, bhangra to Northern Soul as well as striking Kathakali dancers visiting especially for Weekender from India.
There will be live music and heavyweight DJs each evening including Craig Charles, David Rodigan and Don Letts.
There will also be performances from the city’s own Birmingham Royal Ballet in the Bullring, and spectacular South Asian dance throughout the weekend as well as new commissions from 2Faced Dance and Rosie Kay and a preview of DeNada Dance Theatre’s TORO: Beauty and the Bull, presented by DanceXchange at the Patrick Centre.
The whole programme offers cultural experiences for families including Rangeeli, a colourful community parade taking place through the city-centre complete with Harminder the Elephant; an Alternative Village Fete based at the Bull Ring Markets opening especially for the Weekender and where you can get involved in a den-building project with DenCity by 815 Agency.
Clash of Drums, presented by Birmingham Hippodrome, takes place at Eastside Green, while families can test their balancing skills with Still Walking and the Bullzini Family Funambulists in Cathedral Square.
The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, conducted by music director Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, will be performing in New Street Station, enjoy a multi-story orchestral performance will take place in the car park of Arena Birmingham.
In the Mailbox, there will be three world premieres from Birmingham Opera Company, featuring the music of Birmingham composers – Susannah Self, Chloe Knibbs and Yfat Soul Zisso.
Visual arts will transform the city by encouraging people to look again at familiar spaces, from live painting from Soul City Arts and The Barber Institute, presenting The Barber on the Streets with artist Matt Reeves, graffiti artist Zuke and illustrator Deka all curated by Mohammed Ali, to ethereal projections in Cathedral Square by Tony Oursler presented by Birmingham Museums Trust and Artangel.
New Alexandra Theatre will be transformed with Sky Dancers, inflatable sculptures by famous artists Designs in the Air.
The BBC in Birmingham will be celebrating the opening of its new The Archers Exhibition in its Mailbox home, while there will be a social drawing event – pens, pencils and paper provided – at the Edwardian Tearoom in Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.
Theatre fans can see a preview of Outbox Theatre’s As A Tiger In The Jungle at the Birmingham Rep. This uses circus skills and spoken word to tell an inspiring story of life, circus and survival. Outside street theatre will pop up here, there and everywhere, highlights include the hummelmania tribe – rubber band creatures – created by Rotterdam artist Mette Sterre and KTO Theatre’s Peregrinus, presented by Birmingham Hippodrome, which will see ordinary workers in striking masks journey through the city, appearing suddenly to perform to instantly recognisable music.
The Birmingham Conservatoire will be celebrating the move to its new home with a Magical Mystery Tour, which starts at Bullring and ends at Birmingham’s new Conservatoire, next to Birmingham City University.
Birmingham Weekender is brought to the city by Culture Central, the cultural development agency for Birmingham.
Colmore BID, Bullring, Mailbox, Bull Ring Markets, BCU, University of Birmingham, Grand Central Birmingham and Selfridges are all confirmed as sponsors of the event, alongside funding support from Birmingham City Council, Arts Council England and Birmingham Retail BID.
Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce is the event’s Business Partner, while The British Council is Programme Partner, Dance Hub Birmingham is Strategic Partner, Hotel Partner is Holiday Inn and Midland Metro is Travel Partner.