11 thoughts on “Creative Director for Birmingham?

  1. It does sound intriguing…and yet I can’t help but feel a bit twitchy.
    It seems to me that part of the reason Birmingham has a strong, successful and ever-growing creative industry is because it has evolved largely under the radar.
    People have simply been getting on with it, rather than talking endlessly about it and getting caught up in anything too official or established.
    Maybe it is the cynical journo buried (not too deeply) inside me, but I worry that as soon as you start labelling things – a Creative Village, for example – or appointing people to positions such as “director” or “ambassador”, then you start to lose a lot of the positive qualities that helped to bring about the success in the first place.
    I think it is high time the success and contribution of so many creative companies and individuals is recognised and that that positive impact is reflected in the city and West Midlands decision-making processes. Not sure this is the right way forward at the moment.

    At least they haven’t suggested a Cultural Quarter. I’m not sure how many quarters one city can mathematically accommodate.

  2. What amuses me about Moseley being a “creative village” is many of the creative types have moved to neighboring Kings Heath and Balsall Heath because the rents are cheaper…

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  4. I linked to the Creative Republic site there because it seems they are likely to have a lot of input into choosing such a Director. Indeed, now vanished (?) from their website is the bit that says they are…

    “…looking to recruit an ambassador. You will need skill, imagination, superlative communication skills, dazzling networks and the inside track on how to get things done in the city. The successful applicant has the opportunity to shape and develop Creative Republic, create a buzz around it and its potential and bring a focus and clarity to the creative sector in the City as never before.”

    It would seem natural to try someone out in that role and then, after they have proved themselves, move him/her up to be the city’s main Creative Director.

  5. Unfortunately I’ve not been able to blog for about a week (small people’s birthday parties etc.) but the Creative Director is something that I’ve pitched at a couple of meetings (‘Creative Birmingham Partnership Board’ and a meeting about the Big City Plan), along with a Creative and Cultural Charter as something to address some of the issues that the Parkinson report pulled out.

    Anyway – seeing as it seems to have popped out into the open (as blogging tends to do) I’ll be putting up a considered ‘how about…’ type post on my blog as soon as I can get it written. Would have liked a bit more time but hey ho, nothing like the present!

    And I was at both of the meetings where I proposed the idea wearing my Creative Republic hat so I guess that might be a reason for us being linked, and yes I _know_ that the site is a bit incoherent at the moment but we’re on the case with it…

    The Creative Republic job position has been filled and we’ll be putting out some info about this soon too.

  6. @Paul: “It seems to me that part of the reason Birmingham has a strong, successful and ever-growing creative industry is because it has evolved largely under the radar.”

    Couldn’t agree more – I call it “in-spite-of-ness”, but you do only get so far with that. Other European cities have successfully made the leap into embracing their underground to make it more successful – I think that needs to happen in Birmingham. Not by taking it overground but by making decisions that enable it to thrive. Often that should be ‘just leave it alone’ – but even that is a decision.

  7. I also attended Fridays event, my understanding was that this was in no way an official proposition rather someone from Creative Republic flagging up the possibility of a ‘Creative Director'(hence I imagine the link).

    For some reason the idea of a ‘Creative Director’ is a little troubling to me. Employed by whom? representing who? and whose idea of creativity etc etc? does Birmingham have a Peter Saville equivalent? Someone who has already got a track record? experience and vision to take on this role?

    I remember seeing Tony Wilson talking about this very idea and the sense that Peter Saville (and he) had by virtue of their influence, ideas and vision been obvious choices for this role. It may be that Birmingham has that/those people, those obvious choices?

  8. The Creative Village thing:


    Started I believe on the basis that Moseley is or was the home to a bunch of folks who work in the sector. I can certainly think of a few.

    I think they (MIM)run events and stuff too at Moseley CDT.

    I also have concerns about too many creative quarters etc a very contrived and anti-emmergent model. Kate Oakley (2004) wrote a really interesting/scathing paper on this topic – might be of interest.


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  10. Just to add a note of clarification: The Creative Republic Ambassador post, which, as Stef mentions, has recently been filled, is a management role for Creative Republic itself. Creative Republic is a body that has been established to represent and promote the creative and cultural industries in Birmingham and the region.

    Creative Republic will be launching in the New Year with a membership offer for people in the creative industries to engage in an industry-lead body. It is the membership offer and strategic partnerships that the Ambassador will/is forging. I have recently taken the role of Chair of the voluntary Board of management that is developing the organisation.

    This ambassador role is a different role to that discussed here and elsewhere for the Creative Director: it seems to involve, in the design and advertising industry sense, a creative director to oversee Birmingham as a “campaign”, a design concept or project. It’s a different set of skills and is not without its political challenges, not least when it comes to issues of accountability and funding of such a post.

    Where I’d like to see Creative Republic engage with this – when we have a thriving and active membership – is that we can speak authoritatively on such a concept, having canvassed the views of our representatives from a wide range of disciplines from within the creative and cultural industries.

    But its somewhat early days yet – but watch this space in 2008 for exciting opportunities to develop and shape the organisation.

    The Creative Republic website will shortly reflect the updated position, and keep everyone in touch with progress.

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