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West Midlands’ Businesses back culture bid

Subscribe to RSS RSSWednesday, 14th April, 2010

Businesses across the West Midlands are throwing their weight behind Birmingham’s bid to become the UK’s first City of Culture.

A wave of support from companies and organisations across the region has shown the bid has widespread backing because of the economic and cultural boost it will provide not just to the city but also the wider area.

Business experts said a winning bid would provide jobs, strengthen entrepreneurial talent and alter “outdated” perceptions of the area.

One company in Oldbury has made 1,000 limited edition commemorative badges to show its support, whilst firms in Birmingham have provided free billboard space to promote the bid. Winning City of Culture will be of huge cultural and economic importance to the West Midlands, the worst affected UK region in the recession, providing an estimated financial windfall of at least £200 million. The winning city will play host to a wide variety of high profile events, such as the Turner Prize, Brits and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Birmingham Culture 96 sheet poster

David Manners, whose company David Manners Ltd provides spare car parts, has created 1,000 badges to back the bid. He said: “I am an extremely proud Brummie and I have built my business over 20 years working with and buying from local organisations.

“I am extremely fortunate that my business is thriving despite the current economic environment and feel strongly that backing the bid gives me a chance to put something back into the city that has given me so much over the years.

“If Birmingham won so many people across the city would benefit. That’s a great reason to get behind the bid and I urge others to do so too.”

Gerry Bew, managing partner of Birmingham firm Signature Outdoor Ltd, said it had provided £70,000 worth of advertising space, and said the “financial benefits of winning go way beyond the spend that increased levels of visitors will bring into the city”.

He added: “Being the City of Culture will highlight the city’s vibrancy, increase media interest and coverage, persuade investors that they need to be in Birmingham – all of that will have a financial benefit to us when advertisers want to increase their profile in the City of Culture.

“We couldn’t offer our help if there weren’t real, tangible economic benefits from helping these initiatives succeed. A successful Birmingham means that Birmingham companies become more successful.”

Barrie Williams, chairman of Business Voice WM, said there was “no doubt” Birmingham was best placed to win the title with a cultural heritage that spanned the world’s largest Pre Raphelite art collection, a world renowned Shakespeare collection, a hugely popular Punjabi music scene, the Birmingham Royal Ballet and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

He added: “After being hit so badly by the recession, winning the title would also boost the economic lifeblood of the West Midlands.” Jerry Blackett, Chief Executive of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that 96 per cent of chamber members from Birmingham and Solihull supported the bid, adding that it was crucial to “challenge outdated perceptions of Birmingham”.

“We are now a major European city well on the way to achieving global status, attracting new high-tech industries as well as being a growing hotbed of the arts,” he said. Paul Thandi, Chief Executive of the NEC Group, said: “By bringing not only high visitor and business tourist spends from visitors to the West Midlands during 2013, but also, importantly, a long-term boost to arts and culture businesses, it will help to create and sustain the kind of entrepreneurs who will strengthen and broaden our regional economy for the future.”

Birmingham is on the shortlist and faces competition from Norwich, Sheffield and Londonderry. The winner is expected to be announced in July.

*Limited stocks of the badges are available to members of the public from Thursday at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery ground floor reception.