David Roberts

David Roberts

Professor David Roberts, Head of the School of English at Birmingham City University

Over the past few years Jo Birch in RIES has been working her socks off promoting the University’s contribution to Birmingham’s artistic and cultural scene. She was the mastermind behind the New Generation Arts Festival, which saw students and graduates from across the University joining forces in a huge range of original projects, from plays in Millennium Point to exhbitions in a pink inflatable house in Centenary Square. On September 14th 2011 she took on an equally impressive challenge by bringing together Birmingham’s cultural leaders for a conference at the Conservatoire. The University played host to a gathering of creative people from the major institutions and from the city’s dynamic festival scene: from the CBSO and Royal Ballet to the Fierce Festival and Capsule. After some presentations in the morning, I chaired a session on how we persuade ambassadors for the city to get more familiar with Birmingham’s arts scene. Creative people being what they are, we decided to strip the question back to reveal some underlying issues. We live in challenging times. There’s a need for a new kind of arts leadership in the city, with central planning replaced by a collaborative approach that stresses creativity and content for their own sake. We need to acquaint our business associates with the cultural dimension of the city: what it means to develop quality of life, what it takes to support the arts effectively. We need to think about how the University can play its part as a broker, as a source of ideas for new funding streams, and as an educator of the next generation of artists and audiences. It was exciting to talk through the issues and to feel a shared understanding emerging from the gloom that’s come of so much financial bad news.

By the end, we had the sense not just that there was a new way forward based on collaborative working, but that our University has a huge role to play in making it happen. As the leading arts educator in the region, we have everything to gain from joining forces with the leading arts providers. I felt more than ever that this is one those qualities that makes our University so rich in potential.

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David Roberts

David Roberts

Faculty of Performance, Media and English at Birmingham City University
David Roberts

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