There seems to be a lot of noise recently about how Birmingham, the UK’s second city, is lacking “respect” from event organisers in numerous disciplines; notably for me – web and movies. Also, it seems Birmingham isn’t able to cultivate thriving communities which are found in other cities such as London and Brighton. What I would like to know is why?
Carsonified have just announced their new 2009 Future of Web Design tour, arriving at four UK cities. Considering the event is missing London (as the main event is held there), you would think that the UK’s second city, especially because it is located so centrally and with great transport links, would be a certainty. You would be wrong. This is the second Carsonified roadtrip of the year and again it avoided Birmingham. Why?
London has some major web-standards orientated conferences such as @media, which has been going for six years, and this year will see UX London. Brighton hosts Clearleft’s grassroots dConstruct conference, which is in it’s fifth year. Both London and Brighton also have well-known and vibrant web and design related communities and those conferences reflect that. But why doesn’t Birmingham?
This article has been all about why Birmingham is being ignored for digital media, especially considering Digital Birmingham is aiming to “make Birmingham a leading European digital city by 2010” and the answer is; I don’t know.
There are a lot of events and discussions in and around Birmingham being held every month, but nothing seems to have gelled together in to a more formally recognised “scene”, such as those in Brighton or London. The Multipack is a group I’ve been heavily involved with since it’s inception in 2005. It is a great community of multi-talented Web professionals from across the West Midlands and we meet every month to discuss design, code, standards and technology, and share our knowledge, skills and talents. Recently we have branched out from our very informal pub-orientated meetings to create Multipack Presents. “Presents” is a completely free event open for anyone wanting to attend.
The Multipack is only a small part of a potential solution. Stuart Langridge started an interesting topic titled “A Birmingham scene” on the Multipack forum, asking the same question I have just been — why. There are some great replies and ideas on how to solve the problem the forgotten Birmingham.
This avoidance of Birmingham can also be found in other areas of the arts. I an an avid movie watcher, but I have very limited choice of what I can watch at the cinema. If the movie isn’t part of a majorly distributed release I probably won’t be able to see it on the big screen. Dave Harte has published some thoughts, which mirror mine, of the state of cinema in Birmingham;
The list of non-London cities showing Charlie Kaufman’s highly-rated new film Synecdoche, New York in the week of its release include: Sheffield, Nottingham, Manchester, Bristol, Liverpool, Newcastle, Norwich, Edinburgh, Glasgow. Birmingham’ not up there.
Again, I simply can not understand why Birmingham is completely ignored for decent movie distribution. Dave Harte chaired a discussion, held at Fazeley Studios, to debate and create an action plan to get art house and non mainstream movies in to Birmingham.
There is a lot wrong with the media scene in Birmingham, but there are a lot of people investing a lot of their free time to help improve the situation. What do you think?