Sneak peek at Birmingham Festival 2023 plans with free performances in Centenary Square this summer

A huge festival to celebrate the Commonwealth Games legacy is coming to Birmingham this summer. Here’s a look at what to expect
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It was a phenomenal year for Birmingham as we hosted 72 nations and 11 days of sport last year.

Brummie icons including Ozzy Osbourne and Duran Duran joined the celebrations with stellar performances and the Royal Family came to town to honour the athletes and watch the spectacle.

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Now a new festival is being launched to cheer the legacy of the biggest multi sport event held in the UK in a decade. Birmingham Festival 2023 has been commissioned and supported by Birmingham City Council and will run in Centenary Square for ten days from Friday, July 28 to Sunday, August 6. The Arts Council has confirmed funding.

Now Festival organisers have revealed a taste of what to expect during the show, with will feature ‘Takeover’ days by some of Birmingham’s best loved performers. Here’s the lowdown:

Home from Home with Sampad

On Saturday 29 July Sampad’s ‘Takeover’ explores the theme ofHome From Home. With a day-long programme featuring live music, dance and spoken word it will be a celebration of the lives and creativity of the city.

Vibrant and colourful it will bring together a hugely diverse array of artists, performers and communities that represent generations of people who have made this city their home. There will be time to reminisce and reflect on inherited cultural traditions and also to look towards a bright future with pride and ambition.

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Piali Ray, Director of Sampad said: “By marking the one year anniversary of the Games, we are creating a springboard that will be loaded with energy to catapult everyone involved in the festival - performers, participants and audiences alike - into the future.

“Recapturing the wonderful atmosphere of summer 2022 with a programme that delves into our roots and takes a good look at where we are now  so that we can move forward with positivity and pride.”

Birmingham Festival 2023 celebrates Commonwealth Games legacyBirmingham Festival 2023 celebrates Commonwealth Games legacy
Birmingham Festival 2023 celebrates Commonwealth Games legacy

EveryBody Dancing with FABRIC

Dance takes centre stage on Sunday 30 July as FABRIC, the region’s strategic dance development organisation, takes over Centenary Square with EveryBody Dancing, an exciting programme of amazing dance full of free opportunities to get involved.

Becky Bailey, Head of Participation and Learning at FABRICsays: EveryBody Dancing is a celebration of work inspired by and made with artists and communities in the region.

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“Our programme will feature engaging promenades, pop up performances and opportunities for everyone to get dancing!”

The highlight of the day will be a specially commissioned new work by ZoieLogic Dance Theatre co-created with Critical Mass Dance Collective (CMDC), the inclusive dance company featuring an integrated cast with people identifying as D/deaf, Disabled and non-disabled.

Directed by Zoie Golding and supported by Dance Development Leaders Group, the new show is funded by United by 22, whose mission is to maintain the momentum of the Commonwealth Games across the whole of the West Midlands.

Members of the CMDC were previously seen dancing their way through key moments of the Birmingham 2022 Festival and the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.

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Zoie is excited to build upon these unforgettable experiences in this year’s show.  “Our plan is to be even more ambitious and bring Birmingham to life again with this inspirational, inclusive dance collective.”

Birmingham Festival 2023 celebrates the legacy of the Commonwealth GamesBirmingham Festival 2023 celebrates the legacy of the Commonwealth Games
Birmingham Festival 2023 celebrates the legacy of the Commonwealth Games

Carnival is Colour with ACE dance and music

On Saturday 5 August ACE dance and music, the Birmingham-based, Black-led, contemporary dance company, presents Carnival is Colour.

Witness a collage of carnival colour, dance, and the pulsating rhythms of Trinidad as vibrant costumes soar, amidst the backdrop of a Community Mass Choir led by Black Voices, and Dutch Marching Band Eternity Percussion, as they fill Centenary Square with the magical energy.

ACE dance and music invites you to experience the  sights and sounds of Caribbean Carnival extravaganza in full swing.

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Gail Parmel MBEfromACE dance and music, said:Our mission is to promote the power of dance through cultural exchange. ‘Carnival is Colour’  provides us with the perfect opportunity to reveal carnival dance costumes, music and singing with a Caribbean cultural mix that will have you dancing around Centenary Square like never before!”

Elizabeth ZeddieElizabeth Zeddie
Elizabeth Zeddie

Local artists join the team for Birmingham Festival 2023

In addition to the sneak peek at plans, Birmingham Festival 2023 has also announced that Elizabeth ‘Zeddie’ Lawal and Mukhtar Dar have joined the Festival team as Artistic Associates.

Mukhtar and Zeddie have been working closely with Creative Director, Raidene Carter and the wider producing team to bring their broad experience, perspective and knowledge of the city’s cultural communities to help ensure a varied and exciting Festival programme that is relevant to the city’s diverse audiences.

Both artists were involved in Birmingham 2022 Festival activities last year and their role this year has already seen their direct involvement in decision-making and influencing how the festival shapes up, with a particular nod to supporting new talent. Each will also present specially curated work in the programme which will be revealed in late June.

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Mukhtarsaid: There is huge potential in this city, we are one of the youngest cities in Europe, we are super diverse, and the creativity in Birmingham is incredible. As an Artistic Associate I aim to ensure the programme is diverse, inclusive and welcoming to all.”

Mukhtar DarMukhtar Dar
Mukhtar Dar

Zeddie said: It’s been almost a year since the Commonwealth Games came to an end in the city, and now is the time to ask ourselves, ‘what does the future look like?’ How do we make sure that this festival is about Birmingham and honours the talent that is right here? How can we speak to our global communities that are linked by our past, present and future.’

Raidene said: “I’m really excited about Mukhtar and Zeddie - with them we’re already unlocking new networks and fresh ideas that push things forward. Having Artistic Associates helps ensure that the voices of freelance artists remain an important part of cultural decision-making in the city, and it’s also about sharing leadership of events of this scale.

“Both Mukhtar and Zeddie are well-known in the city for their work which spans music, live events, digital art, poetry and festivals, and I can’t wait to see how their influence features in the Festival programme.”

Steven Knight CBE, and former gold-medal winning Team England Netball Captain, Ama Agbeze are Patrons of the festival, signifying the city’s cultural and sporting ambitions.

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