Byline: Joanna Birch
Birmingham's cultural credentials are often misunderstood or ignored, yet they offer the key to unlocking the true commercial potential of the city.
They demonstrate Birmingham's vibrancy and ability to offer a great lifestyle for both prospective employees and employers alike. They attract talent into the city and individuals who wish to associate themselves with that talent which in turn encourages business investment, student growth and potential income generation. In addition they reinforce Birmingham's status as a truly international city.
In a BBC Inside Out programme earlier this year, reporters undertook a review to pitch Birmingham and Manchester against one another as Britain's second city. The programme highlighted the worrying repercussions of not working together on a collective and united cultural vision. If 48 per cent of people in the UK believe Manchester to be the UK's second city, Birmingham needs to up its game to provide a strong cultural image to the world.
Our experience of the 80s and 90s show what a tremendous influx of publicity, tourism and new business can materialise from thinking big. However, the development of internationally recognised arts organisations, such as the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Birmingham Royal Ballet, and opportunities such as the hosting of G8, do not happen without foresight, careful preparation - and passion.
And without greater vision, more involvement and greater commitment from the Birmingham business community, a city with world class arts and a thriving artistic community will be bypassed yet again in favour of competing cities.
However, Birmingham has real potential to knock back the competition. This year sees a range of high profile festivals including Fierce, New Art Birmingham and the second New Generation Arts Festival, organised by UCE Birmingham, all of which have successfully attracted national publicity.
There is great potential for Eastside (with Birmingham City Council's commitment to creating an education and cultural quarter there) to play a major role in supporting a strong infrastructure in which art can continue to flourish.
UCE Birmingham continues to be keen to support these developments with ambitious plans to invest in Eastside and strong endorsement by the new vice chancellor, David Tidmarsh.
The business …