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Birmingham Festival 23

10 days of free cultural performances
28 July - 6 August 2023

Building on the success of our Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 Festival Sites, OPUS are thrilled to have been the Producers for the brand new festival, Birmingham Festival 23.

Commissioned by Birmingham City Council, Birmingham Festival 23 was the official one-year anniversary festival for, and in celebration of, the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Proudly outdoors and free to access, the Festival was inspired by the city-centre experience of the Games. Centenary Square was transformed with live music and performance, creative and participatory activities, and big-screen content to conjure the shared moments, magic and memories of ‘22. The festival was a joyous, fun and heartfelt homage to our big summer of sport and culture, and another bold showcase of Birmingham’s talent, character and reputation as a world-class destination for major events.

  • 153 performances and projects
  • 800+ performers and artists
  • 40 new works
  • 123,800+ footfall
  • £1.78m spent on Birmingham and West Midlands organisations
  • 1000s of steps danced!

Festival Highlights 

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The Programme

As Producers for the event, we were ultimately responsible for integrating all Production, Creative and Event teams. Here's just some of the project-specific elements OPUS managed:

Managing a full team of 17 freelancers (ranging from ASM to Host Liaison to Community Engagement) plus 22 additional BSLIs and Audio Describers and 2 paid University of Birmingham interns

Creative Programming both On- and Off-stage, including producing new commissions and creating a brand new Opening Event

Contracting and Financial Planning

Stakeholder and Client Liaison

Accessibility Planning and Provision, lead by our specialist Access Producer (read more on access below)

All aspects of Artist Liaison, Welfare and Accreditation

Site design, furniture curation and dressing

Community engagement, including running an open call for performances and funding travel for community groups to attend, who otherwise couldn't visit.

Based on our extensive experience of creative programming for major events in Birmingham City Centre, we helped shape a varied programme that truly had something for everyone and included: 
 

  • 5 Soundbaths in partnership with Sense
     

  • 8 Party Picnics with Games Mascot Perry encouraging the youngest audience members to try something new, from Capoeira to Opera to Parachute Play 
     

  • 23 Made in Brum community acts recruited through a city-wide public callout, representing the breadth and diversity of talent in the city
     

  • 18 active participation sessions from yoga to Bhangra to Drum n Bounce sessions, boosting wellbeing while having fun
     

  • A brand new Opening Show conjuring the magic and memories of the summer of '22
     

  • 5 Twilight Takeover commissions from local arts organisations - meshing bold stories of the city with party vibes for an experience to remember
     

  • Next Track, a new commission from writer, performer and educator Casey Bailey and Musical Director Ashely Allen with music, poetry and spoken word artists from Birmingham and the West Midlands, closing the Festival in style

 

This year, we put all our experience into practice and aimed to create the most accessible event we have produced to date. Whilst there is always more to learn and implement, we are proud to have put in place the following:

  • Created an Access Producer role, with plenty of lead time to be able to embed access at the heart of the event design and programme;

  • Had British Sign Language Interpretation and Audio Description all day every day;

  • Created an accessible stage design, with accessible BOH facilities;

  • Welcomed Deaf and disabled hosts on the Main Stage;

  • Built an accessible viewing area into our site and dressing plan, resulting in a colourful festival raised area with a variety of seating with back support;

  • Created a BSL welcome video for visitors in advance of the festival, outlining Access provision;

  • Provide a comprehensive access webpage online;

  • Ensured accessible facilities were available for all performers, staff and audiences;

  • Welcomed several performances led by, or featuring, disabled or d/Deaf performers;

  • Built an access database to be able to reach audiences who may benefit from provisions.

Access at Birmingham Festival 23

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I can’t thank you enough for your continued support and inspiration. Thanks to the partnership with OPUS we have been able to grow and develop what we can offer. We are now in a position to be able to provide teams of exceptional describers in the industry to large scale events. While still maintaining the personal relationships that I believe is necessary for successful access. OPUS are inspirational producers who care about providing high quality arts experiences for everyone.

Caroline Burn
Talking Theatre

Thank you so much for the opportunity to perform at Birmingham Festival 23.
It was a life-changing experience and your work and presence made me feel very welcome, safe and appreciated.
I have only gratitude and admiration for your work with the different sub-groups that were present on the festival stage. Thank you for making it possible for me to perform and experience that.

Lee Jenner
Artist

 

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