A share of £600,000 has been awarded to three West Midlands organisations to create inclusive arts and cultural projects linked to the Commonwealth Games, following a collaboration between the Olympic legacy funder Spirit of 2012 and Birmingham 2022.
The successful projects awarded £200,000 each from the Spirit of 2012 West Midlands Challenge Fund span Birmingham, the Black Country and Coventry. Collectively they will work with more than 1,600 disabled and non-disabled people to explore links between communities and Birmingham 2022, maximise the impact of the Commonwealth Games and leave a lasting social legacy.
The projects will culminate in a series of performances during the Birmingham 2022 Cultural Programme, a world-class arts festival running from March to September 2022, alongside the sports programme. The cultural programme will include new work, installations, exhibitions, performances and major events across the West Midlands.
The successful organisations who will receive funding are:
- Creative Black Country: a project called Shine a Light, building bridges between D/deaf, disabled and non-disabled people to tell stories of people around the Commonwealth. Workshops will be delivered to 280 people, culminating in a touring performance and series of films to share across the Birmingham 2022 Cultural Programme.
- Caudwell Children: a project called All Roads Lead to Alexander, delivering music workshops for young disabled people and their families in Birmingham (Ladywood, Sandwell, Sutton Coldfield and Perry Barr). 1,000 people will take part in workshops and around 80 will tell their story of links and ties to Commonwealth nations and territories, culminating in a performance during the Birmingham 2022 Cultural Programme.
- Warwick Arts Centre: a community cohesion project called Playing Out in Canley, Coventry, using play to deliver a listening and storytelling project engaging with around 400 people, including those with long-term illness and disability, at community venues. The project will culminate in the production of two spectacular carnivals, inspired by the unique moment of the Games.
Spirit of 2012, which is the London Olympic and Paralympic Games Legacy Funder, has worked with Birmingham 2022 on the West Midlands Challenge Fund to help build strong communities, improve wellbeing and empower inclusive participation in the arts.
Susie Rodgers MBE, non-executive director, Spirit of 2012 and Paralympic gold medallist, said:
“Large scale sporting and cultural events have the power to bring people together in hope and celebration; I know this through my own personal and professional experience as a Paralympic athlete, competing in and experiencing both London 2012 and Rio 2016.
“It is a privilege to be able to fund these three fantastic projects that will create opportunities for disabled and non-disabled in all corners of the West Midlands to come together to celebrate the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, their Commonwealth stories and be part of the biggest celebration of sport and culture in this country since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“I know the true value that sport has, particularly in changing attitudes, unlocking what is possible, and demonstrating how we are all interconnected. That is why I am excited to see these brilliant projects innovate in bringing people from all parts of the community together to create something truly special.”
Raidene Carter, Executive Producer of the Birmingham 2022 Cultural Programme, said:
“This fund will support three inspirational organisations and, importantly, bring a much needed financial and morale boost to the cultural and charity sectors through uncertain times.
“Each project demonstrates the power of the arts in giving voice to some of our underrepresented communities across Birmingham and the West Midlands, bringing together hundreds of disabled and non-disabled people to create a series of exciting performance moments for the Birmingham 2022 Cultural Programme.
“Our collaboration with Spirit of 2012 is a wonderful example of Birmingham 2022’s ambition to create a Games for everyone. We’ve loved being part of the journey so far and I can’t wait to see how the creative ideas and incredible ambition for inclusion come together for the wider public to enjoy in 2022.
Nigel Huddleston, Minister for Sport, Heritage and Tourism, said:
“As the Games for everyone, we want to ensure that Birmingham 2022 brings people together and these inclusive projects will do just that. They also offer a great opportunity to reflect the rich cultural diversity of the West Midlands and I look forward to seeing them as part of the Birmingham 2022 Cultural Programme.”
Parminder Dosanjh, Creative Director of Creative Black Country, said:
“Disabled communities have been disproportionately affected by the impact of lockdown, so it is really exciting to be able to plan a series of workshops with hundreds of people across the Black Country over the next two years, as well as a touring performance and series of films to share during the Birmingham 2022 Cultural Programme.
“Arts and culture will be absolutely central to our recovery as a country, and funding like this will help us to do some inspirational work with deaf, disabled and non-disabled people across the Black Country just when it is needed most.”
Trudi Beswick, CEO at Caudwell Children, said:
“Our All Roads Lead to Alexander project is really ambitious; we’re aiming to work with 1,000 young disabled people, their siblings and families in Birmingham and Sandwell who have links to Commonwealth nations and territories over the next two years.
“We’ll do this through a series of music workshops, in partnership with local communities and organisations to help improve mental health and wellbeing, and a celebratory performance in 2022. We are very excited to deliver the project, as it will help us expand on the charity’s work in helping disabled children reach their full potential, especially in the West Midlands.”
Doreen Foster, Director of Warwick Arts Centre, said:
“This funding is a fantastic opportunity to expand our proud history of working closely with people in our neighbouring communities, especially Canley. I am constantly inspired by the ability of arts and culture to unite diverse groups, and I am excited by the potential of this project to firstly bring together hundreds of people over a two year period, and then to put on two amazing carnivals in 2022 and 2023.
“Coventry is already hosting rugby sevens, judo and wrestling competitions at the Commonwealth Games, so it’s fantastic that the city has a key role in Birmingham 2022’s cultural programme, too.”