Having been thrust into the national spotlight earlier this week – not that you would have really noticed the city’s moment of history – there seems to be a growing discussion about Birmingham’s current profile.
A lot of the discussion is based around Birmingham’s status as a creative city.
In recent years the creative industries, culture, tourism and sport have all become increasingly important to Birmingham, in terms of the local economy and raising the city’s profile nationally and internationally.
Yet despite this on-going success, you have to look really hard sometimes in order to see what is actually happening.
This is a theme taken up by Stef Lewandowski, who has blogged his presentation to a Creative Republic event in Birmingham this week. Transforming himself into a wide-eyed innocent in Birmingham, he attempted to take a stroll around the city and discover the wealth of creativity for himself.
It was a sobering experience and Stef reaches an interesting conclusion. There are calls for a Creative Director to be appointed in Birmingham – similar to the role created in Manchester – but he asks whether everyone has a responsibility to take on that role themselves.
Arguably it is already happening. The likes of Jon Bounds on BiNS and the team at Created in Birmingham are doing an impressive job of drumming up enthusiasm for this weekend’s Artsfest in Birmingham.
Both sites have invested time in providing some simple and informative guides to the various events taking place around the city.
The question is why have they done this when Artsfest is a Birmingham City Council backed programme?
The point is made at CiB that the small team behind Artsfest possibly do not have the resources to create the sort of guides produced by others. If this is the case then it raises serious doubts about BCC’s commitment to the creative sector currently providing so many benefits and opportunities for the city.
Others are taking up the wider debate. On The Birmingham Post’s business blogs, Dave Harte asks whether Birmingham has been allowed to become an uncreative city by various policy decisions taken in recent times.
And Graphiquillan, who has made the city her home, points out what a thankless task it can sometimes be to find the creative sparks lighting up Birmingham.
Like Graphiquillan I’ve relocated to Birmingham. Initially I was hugely impressed with what I found when first moving here about 7 or 8 years ago.
However, in recent times the city feels like it has completely lost its way. There is still progress, of sorts, but there is a lack of clarity and vision which is very worrying.
It seems the city has been taking one step forward and two back for far too long now.
The Big City Plan certainly presents an opportunity for the future, but progress on that seems stuttering too.
One of the aims of the plan is create a debate about which direction Birmingham’s needs to take.
We finally seem to be getting the sort of lively and informed discussion that is long overdue.
But whether everyone – especially those outside of creative and media circles – is actually listening remains to be seen.