IdeasTap recently branched out into the West Midlands by signing on our partner, mac birmingham (pictured). With that in mind, IdeasTap member and Brum-based student Charlotte Lytton shows us around the cultural hotspots of the city...
As England’s second city, there’s never a dull moment in bustling Birmingham.
It’s easy to get taken in by the big-name acts on arena tours and the reams of clubs and pubs here in the heart of the West Midlands, but there’s a quirkier side to this place than meets the eye.
For art enthusiasts and avid theatre-goers, IdeasTap’s partner organisation Midlands Arts Centre – otherwise known as mac birmingham – tops the list of places to visit. With galleries, dance performances and plays, mac’s ever changing cycle of visual arts is a veritable feast for the eyes and ears that offers the best slice of cultural life in Brum. Current events include an exhibition of animated works by sculptor Tom Price and photography from Birmingham’s own Mahtab Hussein exploring what it’s like to be Pakistani in Britain. There’s also the opportunity to be a part of the action, with workshops ranging from life drawing to felt making, adding to the community feel of this wonderfully interactive institute.
It may seem an unlikely setting for refinement and culture, but the University of Birmingham’s campus has a cultural hotspot nestled nicely in its redbrick bosom. The Barber Institute of Fine Arts has an ever changing range of exhibitions, covering everything from Renaissance paintings to ancient coin collections, and with admission free, you really can’t go wrong with this little gem.
Other performance hotspots include The Drum, the national centre for black British arts and culture. Disciplines range from comedy to theatre to club nights, so whether it’s daytime or evening entertainment you’re after, The Drum is a one stop shop for both. There is also a wealth of live arts at The Bristol Pear, a favourite student hangout. This laid back pub offers bargain booze alongside spoken word performances, stand up nights and original drama, and with entry prices as student friendly as the venue, it’s a pretty great spot.
The annual Fierce Festival celebrates all of the live and visual arts the West Midlands has to offer in the space of two short weeks, with acts taking centre stage at venues all over the area. Unfortunately, it’s already been and gone in 2012 – but it’ll be back in spring 2013.
Live arts aren’t everyone’s thing, so if you’re a silver screen fan, Birmingham’s Electric Cinema is the place for you. This chilled hangout is far more individual than the big chains, and as the UK’s oldest working cinema, this is a talkie experience that gives you something a little bit different.
And if you’re looking to relax after a long day of culture-vulture-ing, The Plough in pretty Harborne is a nice place to take the weight off and get a bite to eat. Every Thursday is live music night, so grab a G&T, kick back and enjoy the best Brum has to offer in this kitsch pub. It may not be England’s first city, but Birmingham is never short of things to offer for creatives in search of a good time.
What are your top tips for Birmingham? Leave a comment.
Looking for Creative Space in Birmingham? Apply for our brief, in partnership with mac.
Read our other cultural guides.
Image credit: Geoff Sims.
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