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Art; Culture & creativity
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Birmingham Gems (incl. Culture Trail) - the biggest ever collaboration with community starts!

With help of young people on the National Citizens Service run by Sport 4 Life and with the full support of WM Police, we're starting to build the largest digital Culture Trail ever attempted by a City's community.

The Trail promoting our wonderful Birmingham Gems will be fully populated ahead of the Commonwalth Games in 2022.

Thanks also the great UB40.

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Birmingham Gems (incl. Culture Trail) - the biggest ever collaboration with community starts!





With help of young people on the National Citizens Service run by Sport 4 Life and with the full support of WM Police, we're starting to build the largest digital Culture Trail ever attempted by a City's community.

The Trail promoting our wonderful Birmingham Gems will be fully populated ahead of the Commonwalth Games in 2022.

Thanks also the great UB40.


The vision

The project ACT Community will deliver as ‘a curator’ the most inclusive, digitally accessible art and culture trail ever created by any city, bringing together, for the wellness of society, all of community in a massive celebration of place with events held throughout the year and an annual celebration taking place in the banqueting suite of the Birmingham City Council.

Schools, community groups, charities, faith groups, clubs, societies across all districts will be engaged through the art and creative contacts and partnerships already established across every district in Birmingham, bringing together people regardless of disability or mental health.

Building on community ‘spirit’

There is no better time for engaging community in ACT Community and it will offer a great opportunity for the creatives and those passionate about culture to shine.

This bottom up engagement will promote the values delivered by a connected, engaged and cohesive community and build on those values and strengths shown by people during the fight against Coronavirus.

The project will feed off and into the “spirit” shown by community during this difficult period and every year a showcase of community, culture and creativity will be held in celebration of what is being showcased and delivered on the digital trail.

Delivery and logistics

ACT builds on the work already started and funded by philanthropists. This work over the past 2 years has led to the growth of a large and co-ordinated community of people who are passionate about their place and their culture.

ACT also builds on the huge success of an event held at Birmingham’s Council House in January 2020 which showcased the work (art and culture) of over 100 #PeoplewithPassion #BirminghamPassion from across community.

Digitally, the work of our #PeoplewithPassion is followed by over 100,000 people across the UK. Many of these passionate contributors are known to face mental health challenges and for many our platform has become a positive outlet and a form of ‘medicine’ for their wellness.

Through a mix of digital and traditional engagement, we will expand and bring together in one digital space over 1,000 people from across community to promote, share and showcase their place, culture and the creativity of community.

This community will be hosted at www.birminghamWeAre.com.

A minimum of 100 people/organisations per district will be given free access to use digital tools and collaborate in populating and maintaining the Art & Culture Trail.

Once restrictions over travel and social distancing are fully lifted, we will utilise drone technology to map and pin the creative and cultural places of interest in key locations.

Mapping software already used for another linked project ‘Birmingham Gems’ and VR technology (see www.BirminghamGems.com) is also available.

The Birmingham Contemporary Art Gallery will operate as the physical city centre hub where creatives from the districts can come together, inspire and be inspired. Here creatives can pitch their ideas, attend wellness workshops and meet potential funders .

All of our community artists and creatives will be invited to join in the annual celebrations at the Council House banqueting suite and will have the chance to display their work.

Benefits of participating

People and organisations involved and participating in the trail and all the associated events and celebrations will benefit in so many ways.

Health & Wellbeing. People will be given the digital and physical opportunity to share their passions and develop their skills.

Belonging. By collaborating in something that has clear social value across the community people take pride in contributing to something with real purpose and value that can be measured.

Digital skills. Our digital workspace with free access to tools will help people grow their digital competencies.

Overriding it all is community wealth and employment by providing a space where new faces are given the opportunity to shine and develop careers.

Evaluating our progress

A quarter by quarter evaluation will cover 3 targets.

First, the development of the trail district by district. With a target of 100 contributors per district, we will monitor how we are progressing against our target of mapping all art, creativity and culture.

Second, the number and coverage of events and participation across community will be monitored to ensure representation, irrespective of ability, skill or location.

Third, and overarching everything, is the social value added from the combined contributions of individuals, alliances and corporate sponsors.

Location

In partnership with over 50 organisations with a direct interest in promoting the city’s culture and with support from the City Council’s neighbourhood team, we will roll out the digital trail across all districts.

Note: This model, with similar support from other Councils, can be expanded to include the whole region.

At regular events (every 3 months), district artists and galleries have the chance to pitch their work and their ideas at The Birmingham Contemporary Art Gallery to an audience they would not ordinarily have the chance to meet.

Wellness workshops held by the Gallery will give creatives much needed support to help them on their journey.

All of these community artists and creatives will be invited to join in the annual celebrations at the Council House banqueting suite and will have the chance to meet corporates, funders and investors of art, design and creativity.

The events will be an opportunity for all those contributing to the art and culture trail to shout out. It will provide the chance for creatives through the ongoing engagement we have with schools, community-based galleries, community groups and charities to connect without physical or geographical barriers.

Our selection of partners and associates will ensure representation of all community and all people irrespective of ability, wealth or location. Giving schools and community groups free access to our community workspace, as partners and stakeholders will ensure the participation of people of all ages in a secure and access rights environment.

The roll out will be inclusive as it will be supported by a range of stakeholders that represent the interests and needs of all groups irrespective of their physical or mental challenges.

Over 50 organisations.across community are being approached to participate in the project and assist in introducing ACT to their community. With these organisations, we will jointly run events to promote the project and bring people together promoting the values and strengths of a cohesive community.

This is just the start!

Funding

This will be a process of matched funding from 3 sources.

First, in order to inject support during and immediately after the coronavirus, we are approaching multiple organisations for funding and grants, including philanthropists. Our target is £150,000 in funding from these sources each year for the next 3 years.

Investors and sponsors, include corporates that keen to see their brand associated with the growth of creatives in the City, will contribute a further £150,000.

The commercial activities conducted at the gallery and the advertising revenue brought in through commercial advertising on the associated Birmingham Gems platform will generate a further £150,000.

The on-line home for all sponsors and supporters will be www.CreativesWeAre.com and the physical home for events, socials and creative pitches will be The Contemporary Art Gallery at the Indoor Arena.

This will cover all costs associated with the delivery and maintenance of two complementary digital ventures including all services, products and administration.

1. Act Community - Art and Culture Trail

2. Birmingham Gems – the City mapped and tracked for visitors

Contact for further details and to arrange a tour of the digital platform: Jonathan Bostock Jonathan@FreeTimePays.com m: 07432 637322

 

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50 passion points
Squares and public spaces
20 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Kings Heath Village Square at Vicarage Road and High Street near All Saints Church

The churchyard of All Saints Church in Kings Heath was refurbished into Kings Heath Village Square back in 2011. Located near Vicarage Road and the Kings Heath High Street. There is a regular Famers Market, once a month on the first Saturday of the month. Other events have taken place here over the years. Such as National Express West Midlands promoting the then new no 50 bus.

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Kings Heath Village Square at Vicarage Road and High Street near All Saints Church





The churchyard of All Saints Church in Kings Heath was refurbished into Kings Heath Village Square back in 2011. Located near Vicarage Road and the Kings Heath High Street. There is a regular Famers Market, once a month on the first Saturday of the month. Other events have taken place here over the years. Such as National Express West Midlands promoting the then new no 50 bus.


KINGS HEATH VILLAGE SQUARE

The Village Square opened in Kings Heath back in October 2011. The land was originally the churchyard of All Saints Church (some graves and grave stones remain, plus a war memorial). It's like an old village green now but in the heart of Kings Heath. One of the main features is a Labyrinth that people can walk around for fun. The All Saints Centre was also built around the same time (it includes a cafe and pharmacy).

Many cultural events and markets have taken place here over the years (before the pandemic). Such as the Kings Heath Farmers Market, taking place on the first Saturday of each month. Sometimes even a small fun fair with rides. Or collections for charity at Christmas time.

Kings Heath Village Square is located at a site between Vicarage Road and the High Street in Kings Heath, with All Saints Church to the far end of the square.

Bus routes include the 11A, 11C, 35, 50 and 76.

 

Kings Heath Village Square over the years

One of my earliest photos of Kings Heath Village Square, taken during February 2012, of the Labyrinth. You can see some market stalls near the Kings Heath All Saints Centre. Taken during the Kings Heath Farmers Market on Saturday 4th February 2012.

 

A day later on Sunday 5th February 2012, I returned to Kings Heath when there was a snowfall. This view of Kings Heath Village Square towards the All Saints Centre.

 

A blue sky during the middle of January 2020 as seen in Kings Heath Village Square. The Platinum buses had been on the 50 for over a year by this point. All Saints Church seen to the left.

 

Some snow in Kings  Heath Village Square, as seen from the no 11A bus on Vicarage Road. This was near the end of December 2020 (while still in Tier 3 restrictions at the time). View to All Saints Church.

 

Markets and fairs in the Village Square over the years

 

Kings Heath Farmers Market

This was the Kings Heath Farmers Market as held on Saturday 7th December 2013. It was Christmas time, so there was also some rides there for kids, as well as Father Christmas.

It was open from 9am until 2pm. The Christmas Gift & Craft Fayre was also being held by the Moseley & Kings Heath Lions Club.

Plenty of market stalls all around the square that day.

Bottles of a drink for sale.

A Disney style teacups ride for kids to enjoy.

Oh look, it's Father Christmas in his sleigh with a couple of reindeer! From the Moseley & Kings Heath Lions Club.

 

Kings Heath Winter Fest

This took place on Saturday the 15th November 2014 in Kings Heath Village Square. Plenty of rides for kids to go on.

A small ferris wheel.

Hook A Duck

Signs showing that the All Saints Centre had hall & rooms available for hire. Also the banner for this event.

 

Brum Yum Yum Kings Heath

This event took place on the 9th April 2016. It was part of the KingshEATh Streetfood Market.

From this VW Campervan you could buy Mexican Street Food. Cafe Borchata.

The British Bus Bar, was next to something about Virgin Media.

The Food Yule Love trailer.

Drink Up.

Charlie Dumpling was outside of the All Saints Centre.

 

The 50 bus from National Express West Midlands

On Saturday the 18th April 2015, National Express West Midlands launched the (then) new bus to be used on the no 50 bus route between Birmingham City Centre and Druids Heath (via Balsall Heath, Kings Heath, Moseley and the Maypole).

It was 6132 Julie.

This fleet of buses was on the 50 from 2015 to 2018, before being transferred to the 11A and 11C, when the 50 went Platinum from December 2018.

These buses have since been rebranded from 50 to 11A or 11C, with hints of yellow over the red. So it's more likely that you might be on the 11 on Vicarage Road, than on a 50 on the High Street (as you'd be in Platinum bus instead).

 

The Big Hoot Birmingham 2015

The trail of painted owls wasn't only in the City Centre back in the summer of 2015, but you could find some in Kings Heath (as well as the little owls). One owl was here in Kings Heath Village Square, plus you could find another one in Kings Heath Park and outside of Kings Heath Library at the time. The trail ran for 10 weeks (after which the owls were auctioned off for charity).

In Kings Heath Village Square you could find: The Owl and the Pussycat Went to Sea by the artist Mik Richardson. It was sponsored by the Kings Heath BID. Seen during July 2015.

 

Classic Car Meet

Click here for the full Classic Car Meet post. This was held on the August Bank Holiday Monday, 26th August 2019 in Kings Heath Village Square. I was changing buses from the 50 to 11A when I spotted all these classic cars and I went to have a look before going home.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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70 passion points
Art; Culture & creativity
13 Jan 2021 - FreeTimePays
Introducing

'Forward in Unity' mural - Brilliant initiative in so many ways

The 'Forward In Unity’ mural was started on Friday 22nd May 2020. It was completed by artist Gent48 on Monday 1st June 2020. Not only has the project in Digbeth received some fantastic media coverage, it has helped raise awareness of the virus and its devasting impact on the community as well as raising a vast amount for local charities.

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'Forward in Unity' mural - Brilliant initiative in so many ways





The 'Forward In Unity’ mural was started on Friday 22nd May 2020. It was completed by artist Gent48 on Monday 1st June 2020. Not only has the project in Digbeth received some fantastic media coverage, it has helped raise awareness of the virus and its devasting impact on the community as well as raising a vast amount for local charities.


'Forward in Unity' is a great example of how to bring people together in a massive shared effort against a common enemy, as the Covid-19 virus must continue to be regarded.

The project has helped raise awareness.

The 'Forward in Unity' initiative has raised awareness of the virus and brought people together in recognition of the front-line heroes fighting the virus for the protection of our community.

'Forward in Unity'.  Photography by Paul Cadman.

The project has helped bring people together.

The initiative and the significant coverage it has received has attracted the attention of people, not just in Birmingham but across the UK. 

This and other initiatives all have a vital role in tackling the views of those who, despite clear evidence of the devastation caused by the virus, still act and behave in a way that is not in the interests of their community. 

The project has enthused and inspired others to be creative.

During a time when people have been asked to make huge sacrifices and stay at home, the project and the media coverage received has inspired many to check out their own creativity.

Whether through photography, art, craft-making or the written word, such creativity has become hugely important for people's mental health.   

As an example, the Birmingham Gems Charity Calendar for 2021 dedicated a page on the mural in recognition of the city's amazing artists and creative talent. 

The project has raised much needed funds for local charities.

Prints of all sizes can be purchased in order to support local charities, 

In addition to the prints, a book in celebration of those behind the initiative and across community has also been produced.

Connect HERE and get hold of your very own print (signed, limited edition or unlimited) or your 'Forward in Unity' book.  Help support local Birmingham charities. 

'Forward in Unity' A0 Limited Edition Print

'Forward in Unity' Print (A1 or A2)

'Forward in Unity' Video/Book Folder

'Forward in Unity' Book (2nd edition)

Connect HERE to make a donation to Art4Charity and support local charities.

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70 passion points
Health & wellbeing
12 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Introducing the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham

The Birmingham Super Hospital was built on a site in Edgbaston close to the old Queen Elizabeth Hospital from 2006 to 2010 by Balfour Beatty. It was opened in the summer of 2010. Built to replace the old QE and Selly Oak Hospital, it was given the name of Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. It is linked to the University of Birmingham. The hospital is part of the UHB NHS Foundation Trust.

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Introducing the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham





The Birmingham Super Hospital was built on a site in Edgbaston close to the old Queen Elizabeth Hospital from 2006 to 2010 by Balfour Beatty. It was opened in the summer of 2010. Built to replace the old QE and Selly Oak Hospital, it was given the name of Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. It is linked to the University of Birmingham. The hospital is part of the UHB NHS Foundation Trust.


Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham is located in Edgbaston, Birmingham on Mindelsohn Way. The Selly Oak Bypass, known as the Aston Webb Boulevard, along with New Fosse Way and Hospital Way was completed between 2010 to 2011. There is a roundabout nearby called Queen Elizabeth Island.

The nearby Cross City Line includes University Station, which can be used to get to the hospital and the University of Birmingham. As well as the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, the nearby Ariel Aqueduct and railway viaduct are also close by.

Construction of the Birmingham Super Hospital took place by Balfour Beatty between 2006 and 2010. It was named Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, as the Royal title had to be before, and not after, so it could not be called Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

The move to the QEHB started in June 2010, and this was completed by November 2011. At the same time, they were moving out of Selly Oak Hospital and the old Queen Elizabeth Hospital (parts of which are now the Medical School of the University of Birmingham).

The hospital is part of the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

 

The Birmingham Super Hospital seen during May 2009 while it was still under construction. It had been about 6 months since my brother passed away from cancer, and we were at the old QE, to see an art exhibition. While there, I took these photos of the new hospital from the outside.

 

In December 2009 I saw these views of the Birmingham Super Hospital from Selly Oak Triangle. Near the Sainsbury's car park and the Battery Retail Park. Used to be a B & Q at the retail park at the time.

 

Next up, views taken during June 2010, the month the Queen Elizabeth Hospital was first opened. These views from Selly Oak, over the allotments.  Probably taken from the Harborne Lane Island.

 

Some April 2012 views of the QEHB. First up, a couple of views from the Aston Webb Boulevard (Selly Oak Bypass). Plus a couple of views from around Mindelsohn Way.

 

A couple of February 2013 views of the QEHB near the bus stops. The main entrance to the hospital is to the far right.

 

Some views in later years. This one of the QEHB taken from Mindelsohn Way during December 2017 (on Boxing Day). Many bus routes head around this road, with the bus stops on the right. Today you can get the 76 to Solihull, or the 1A towards Acocks Green. Other bus routes serve the bus stops behind.

 

In December 2017, I saw this view of the QEHB from the footbridge at Selly Oak Station. This was two days after the previous time I saw the hospital. There was some snow in Selly Oak that day.

 

This view taken from the bus stop during March 2018 of the QEHB. Taxi rank on the left, bus stops on the right. Was waiting for a no 76 bus back towards Yardley Wood and Hall Green.

 

Now for some views of the QEHB seen over the years from Beacon Hill at the Lickey Hills Country Park.

The view from May 2013, of the QEHB and the BT Tower.

 

By January 2018, you could see the construction to the right of the QEHB of The Bank Tower 2.

 

A November 2020 Lickey Hills 2nd lockdown walk down Beacon Hill started with the skyline view first. The QEHB, was joined by the completed Bank towers, while The Mercian was shooting up Broad Street.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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110 passion points
History & heritage
11 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Return to Packwood House during July 2020

The second National Trust we booked to go back to was Packwood House. This was near the end of July 2020. This time though, we were able to go inside of the house. But the entrance was moved to the back. And only a limited number of people inside at one time. Some parts of the garden wasn't open. But you could go all the way around the lake, and have a picnic on the lawn.

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Return to Packwood House during July 2020





The second National Trust we booked to go back to was Packwood House. This was near the end of July 2020. This time though, we were able to go inside of the house. But the entrance was moved to the back. And only a limited number of people inside at one time. Some parts of the garden wasn't open. But you could go all the way around the lake, and have a picnic on the lawn.


This visit to Packwood House was booked for the 20th July 2020 for around 12pm. As before you go to the National Trust website, and book the tickets in the EventBrite app. The way into the grounds from the car park had changed. You still go through the Barnyard, but a different gate was opened near the house.

You could get in the queue to go into the house, which had only just reopened (many other National Trust properties around the country, the inside of properties were not open). Use the hand sanitiser and put your face mask on. Only the ground floor was open this time. The door at the back was the way in. And you exit via the Great Hall.

One reason to go back was to go all the way around the lake. As back in 2018 they were restoring a path. This time though the path was open, and you could go through gates to the field at the back.

 

Heading from the car park to the Barnyard, saw these social distancing signs. Please keep 2 metres apart.

In the Barnyard saw Fergie the tractor. It is over 70 years old.

The Yew Garden was closed. Saw this view from the back of the house.

Queuing to go into Packwood House. There was hand sanitiser and buckets to bin your paper towels.

Bit weird having the rooms to just your household bubble. This was the Drawing Room.

In the Long Gallery. Was the odd National Trust volunteer around.

Now in the Great Hall. The long table and chairs had been moved. The door to the far right was the way back outside.

Checking out the lake, was gulls taking off and landing all the time.

View of the back of the house. This was The West Front, and last summer it was the way to queue to go into the house. First up it was time to have a sandwich on the lawn to the right.

After having a sandwich, we continued the walk. Now heading around the lake.

Quite a lot of Canada geese and ducks around as you would expect with a lake like this.

The gate from the Packwood Causeway leads into the Pool Tail Copse.

A woodland to walk through. Tall trees, lush and green in the height of summer.

There was an Orchard on the way back towards the gardens with a view of the lake.

Glimpses of the Carolean Garden. Most of the garden was roped off, and you couldn't go any further. This was one of the brick Gazebos.

Another one of the Gazebos near the South Front of the house.

A wheelbarrow and rope. You couldn't go any further in the Carolean Garden.

The East Front of Packwood House used to be the main entrance to go into the house. But not during the pandemic. This door was closed. And now this garden was the way out. The Sundial Gift Shop in the outbuildings to the right was also closed.

Some of the flowers and plants in the garden near The East Front of Packwood House.

On the way out, saw that The Barnyard Cafe was closed. But instead, you could get a coffee in the Barnyard from a trailer. The Kitchen Garden was also closed (I think, might have missed the entrance to it this time). The extensive grounds were open for people to walk around if they wanted to.

 

See also my post on the return to Baddesley Clinton in July 2020.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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