On the 5th of January 2015 I began my involvement with the Balsall Heath Cultural Intermediation project and I couldn’t be joining at a more exciting time. The first two weeks on the project have been a whirlwind.
But first a little about myself. I grew up in Birmingham just a couple of miles west of Balsall Heath, where Ladywood borders on Edgbaston alongside the reservoir. After moving to the Black Country I returned to Birmingham to do my undergraduate and Masters degrees in Human Geography. Between 2007 and 2008 I worked in regional cultural policy-making in the West Midlands. In 2008 I returned to the University of Birmingham once more to complete a PhD which looked at belonging of Muslim communities within Birmingham. Part of my PhD research involved doing walking interviews with residents of Balsall Heath, so it’s quite satisfying to return here.
The Balsall Heath residents who are driving the cultural programme and developing ideas are an energetic, diverse and engaging group. From students to community workers and from seasoned residents to new migrants, what connects them is their passion and drive to deliver some cultural events which will give them and their neighbours experiences to build upon and remember.
Our group has split into three sub-groups, and each sub-group is now working on whittling down its ideas to a Top-3. Food festivals, debating societies, football tournaments, sewing classes, pottery lessons, coach trips, dancing lessons, poetry events and history exhibitions…faced with an array of ideas, there’s quite some negotiating to be done! Once decisions have been made as to what projects are to be taken forward, each group will be helped to deliver their ideas with the assistance of our cultural intermediaries.
The adventure continues…