The West Midlands Culture Response Unit (WMCRU) is today pleased to announce artists and organisations taking part in next Saturday’s (26 September) Democratising Creativity & Culture Weekender.  

Taking place next Saturday from (1pm to 7pm), artists from across the region will respond to the theme of Democratising Creativity & Culture with four brand new pieces created and commissioned for the Weekender and a variety of pre-recorded work all hosted by Ashlee Elizabeth-Lolo and Rakeem Omar.

2020 has demonstrated more than ever the need for cross-over and collaboration between the screen content sector and the traditional cultural sector. That’s why Create Central, the industry-led trade body for the creative content sector, is collaborating with West Midlands Culture Response Unit on this event. With so much amazing talent and energy they want to showcase what is possible in the home of original storytelling: the West Midlands. 

Celebrating young creatives in the West Midlands, the weekender features a collection of performances, films, dance, poetry, stand-up, where the region’s young talent are put centre-stage to share their art and highlight the issues affecting them including lockdown, health, Black Lives Matter, and the power of communities.

Birmingham based artist Kiesha ‘KSsense’ Sadler explores the Black Lives Matter movement in a brand-new spoken word film and independent artist-researcher Melissandre Varin investigates how we keep in touch with each other during the pandemic and how this is reflecting our relationship with the natural world in a newly commissioned poetry film for the weekender too.

The theme of the weekender is explored with the chance for audiences to have their say in Stoke-on-Trent born artist Holly Johnson’s work where the public can vote at each stage of the process of making a hat including the colour, size and style with a random winner receiving the finished design! Multi-disciplinary artist Chloe Deakin will also delve into the theme with a never-before-seen documentary portraying young creatives’ experiences with the cultural sector and asking the viewer “"how can I play my part in democratising the culture and creativity sector?"

Birmingham’s ever-entertaining drag hostess, Yshee Black will celebrate West Midlands key workers with a fabulous digital drag show, plus there’s interviews with artists throughout the day and a special closing party DJ set from Switch Radio from 6pm - 7pm. The festival will also include text captions for all performances with live BSL interpretation accompanying the hosts.

Erica Love, Director of Culture Central said: “The West Midlands Weekenders are a great way to showcase the diversity and innovation of the region’s arts, creating culture in new ways to keep the West Midlands on the map.”

This closing Weekender will round the trilogy off by celebrating and platforming some of the region's young creatives giving an opportunity to showcase new and upcoming talent.

Opening up creativity and culture starts with making sure that young creatives get opportunities. This is especially important now as the Office of National Statistics recently reported that the estimated number of people unemployed aged 16 to 24 years increased by 47,000 on the year.

Ed Shedd, Chair of Create Central, said: "The pandemic has forced an evolutionary leap forward that the West Midlands is ready to embrace and to lead. This event is a great showcase for the amazing artists and storytellers in the wider cultural sector, and with the West Midlands unique mix of TV, film, games, social media and digital skills we have a wonderful opportunity to work together to make West Midlands’ voices more accessible and heard than ever before."

Diandra McCalla, Co-Producer of the Weekender, said: “2020 is the year for people’s voices to really be heard in ways that they hadn’t been before and I hope that our programming reflects that and gives a platform for people that aren't necessarily on your main stages or programmed by the status quo organisations.”

Paige Jackson, Co-Producer of the Weekender, said: “Democratising creativity and culture is what it says on the tin. It’s for the people by the people, it’s a shared responsibility and it’s unfiltered. It’s about making space for individual opinions, experiences and expression and removing as many institutional barriers as we can which would usually otherwise alienate people.”

Aksana Khan, Co-Producer of the Weekender, said: “We can’t afford to be neutral...if things were alright, we wouldn’t have Black Lives Matter. We wouldn’t have had the fear that ethnic minorities were losing their lives because of COVID and I think what is great about the arts is it encourages people to think differently and to empathise and to see people as your own.”

Confirmed artists taking part in the weekender are: Hannah Taylor, Arun Kapor, Sam Malley, Marius Mates, Charis Esther Kibble, Adaya Henry, Yshee Black, Lorna Nickson Brown, Amber Gollay, Jakub Konaszczuk, Femi Themen, Evan Covacevich, Toni Sansara, Kiesha Sadler, Chloe Deakin, Holly Johnson, Melissandre Varin, PotBoiler Theatre, Kwanza Collective, Ruthless Magazine, Sampad, B’Opera.

The full line-up and running times for Democratising Creativity & Culture Weekender will be released in the coming days on makeitwm.com/wm-weekender.  

Democratising Creativity and Culture is supported by Create Central (lead collaborator), Switch Radio (radio partner) and sponsored by Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Compton Verney.

#WMWeekenders 

@CultureCentral @bhamweekender
 

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