Eastside – the real heartbeat of the Creative Industries


By Ammo Talwar

How was your Easter holiday – relax much? Seems like ages ago?  If you did, congratulations; but if you work in the creative industries, we don’t really get those nice holidays. Over here in Digbeth, the heartbeat of SME’s are still trolling, scrolling and polling new work whilst others talk about the mid-term hols. Of course, we all know that Eastside has been brochured and rebrochured by local pundits over the past 10 years; it’s been variously pitched as the leisure, the technology, the media, the learning, the government, cultural, digital, regeneration, creative and music quarter. And of course it’s all of these, more and none.

Truth is; there are thousands of people across the City who know what Digbeth’s really about. Every week hosting the now legendary Digbeth Dining offering a multitude of gifts including great street food, music that inspires and a safe family atmosphere. Thousands will make the trip over here for the MADE Festival, managed across a multitude of Rainbow venues. Now these are all major events, months in the making, offering the public a spectrum of music, food and entertainment; loads of other cool stuff like pop up shops happen at the Custard Factory running alongside Eastside Gallery, and Minerva Works picking up all things visual, not forgetting the amazing work from City of Colours. Those vibrant hours are what really represent Birmingham’s claim to be any kind of city of culture; eclectic, authentic and alive. A young, committed, diverse audience supporting our city’s creative economy, not by posturing or posting randomly on a website, but by spending their own money and being there in person to represent.

I read a local press piece mocking one of these events. Myself, I’m proud that these young people are attracted to our city. While quangocrats and journalists are placing their bets on who should get pushed into the new Metro Mayor spotlight, promoters and punters just get on with it. If we want a creative city we have to cut tomorrow’s cultural leaders some slack and allow creativity room to breath. Manchester’s Northern Quarter and Shoreditch in East London have been given that breathing space, and are now hotspots for investment.

So what’s really in the DNA of our city – progress or provincialism? Punch is asking this question as part of our Desi Moves Project. Stay tuned!


Ammo Talwar


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