Evaluation report: Birmingham 2022 Festival
An overarching evaluation report of the key findings from the Birmingham 2022 Festival. This report represents the culmination of 12-months’ work collaborating with the Organising Committee for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games (the OC) to evaluate its cultural programme, the Birmingham 2022 Festival.
Thank you Birmingham.
Birmingham’s roots are the Commonwealth: for better, for worse, for all the complex and contradicting narratives that swirl through the canals of the city and spill out into the West Midlands.
There are two principal sides to this coin of history: the City of a Thousand Trades, a region of industry, graft and toil; and a place reverberating from its history of empire, and the success stories often built on the work and resources of people and places colonised.
In delivering Birmingham 2022 Festival, the cultural programme for the XXII Commonwealth Games, we commissioned and curated a body of work which was unashamedly and uniquely ‘Brummie’: in its difficult and enthusiastic embrace of these two truths; in its will and its discomfort to have honest conversations about the Commonwealth; and in its challenge of what this means to people, here, now. Perhaps surprisingly, a commitment to find joy, have fun and promote togetherness was the only way to approach this.
By foregrounding these multiple, layered narratives in our curatorial lines, we’ve shone a light on what could be a collective and shared heritage for the region – one which hasn’t been adequately/appropriately represented at this scale in the mainstream cultural sector. It’s had a positive effect: audiences and participants alike are feeling closer to their communities, whilst simultaneously in touch with this concept of a shared heritage and culture that they can feel proud of.
We set out to positively disrupt the sector and the region with these narratives, told through a range of linear and non-linear creative experiences. The artform was key but not unnecessarily precious - as long as these marriages of form and content exposed something new to say about our shared heritage, whilst offering something for the present moment.
None of this was going to be achieved with the work of one team; by investing in creative people and organisations of the region, we chose to devolve delivery, trusting the sector’s vision to build on ours, and drawing their work under the banner of the Festival, and the Games around it. As you will go on to read, it was these 993 organisations, and their 4,954 creatives, who made the festival happen, and who must now benefit from its success. Through promoting genuine mutual exchange in ideas via international collaborations, to investing large budgets in smaller organisations and freelance artists, this has been a festival striving for equity and decentralisation behind the scenes, too. We’ve learned so much and are excited to share the detail with you.
Finally, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everybody who has been part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival team across the last 3 years, for their dedication, passion and hard work. We did this for the Festival, but ultimately for culture in our city and region. We, and many, many more have played a part in the impact you will go on to find in this report.
We hope you enjoy thumbing through the statistics and case studies, and find stories, successes and learnings of our Commonwealth Games cultural adventure to absorb more deeply. More so, we hope you will talk about and use these findings whilst the clear mandate from audiences is palpable - for more culture that represents them and shapes us all for the better.
Raidene Carter, Executive Producer on Behalf of Birmingham 2022 Festival
- Engagement profile including sections on Audiences, participants and volunteers; Programme strategy; Evaluation methodology and Dimension selection
- Programme overview including sections on Commissions; Creative City Grants; Festival sites; Aligned projects
- Outcome areas including sections on Co-creation and inclusion practice; Workforce; Skills development; New audiences; Community; Networks; Profile and Ouputs
- Economic Impact
This report has been prepared by Katy Raines and Tori Moore of Indigo-Ltd, Jordan Gibbs, Kristine Royall, Shannon Pearse, John Knell and Jack Midalia of Culture CountsTM, in association with Jonothon Neelands.