There has been talk of late about the growing case for the appointment of a Director to steer the next phase of the growth and development of Birmingham’s flourishing creative industries.
Many of those categorised within this less than satisfactory umbrella term are making their mark nationally and internationally and yet this significant creative and economic impact is rarely acknowledged, let alone embraced by the decision-makers and other so-called major players in the city.
I must admit to a healthy degree of scepticism and cynicism about whether Birmingham can accommodate a Creative Director.
It is born out of a sense of frustration at seeing other projects fall by the wayside, not just in Birmingham but around the country, as soon as anyone or anything “official” gets involved. Birmingham’s creative industries have developed pretty well under the radar so far.
Equally, I’m wary of giving such innovation any kind of neat, established label.
But I’m also well aware that the phenomenal growth of Birmingham’s creative types now needs to be taken on to the next level.
It needs something to happen and the case put forward by Stef Lewandowski is a persuasive one.
The biggest stumbling block to this remains Birmingham itself.
Or, rather, the often unique brand of politics that is served up in the city. It can stifle the enthusiasm and creativity of even the most enthusiastic of creative types.
Equally, Birmingham still needs to sort out its image and brand identity and that in itself is a political minefield only the bravest or most foolhardy are willing to negotiate.
It isn’t helped by the spurious statistics, surveys, research and stories created by the likes of the Taxpayers’ Alliance.
Presumably it has released details of the £10m spent on publicising Birmingham as a way of highlighting the waste of public money.
Personally, I think that the figures show why Birmingham still suffers an image and brand identity problem – £10m simply isn’t enough.
Such an outlay does need to be justified and the city does need to know it is getting value for money. Arguably there is a case to answer on this point, some of the city council’s spending and initiatives (Wilbur, anyone?) have left a lot to be desired.
But they also serve to show how much Birmingham needs to use the creativity and talent that exists on its own doorstep.
Birmingham is the second largest city in the UK. It is a creative, vibrant and international city.
The facts speak for themselves and so does the success of the various companies and individuals who make up the city’s creative industries.
It is time the rest of the world got to hear about it. More importantly, it is high time the rest of Birmingham woke up to it too.