Culture Faves: It's Better in Birmingham

This week, we introduce PJB who is keen to share her initial thoughts when newly arriving into Birmingham. We think it's great to see our fine city through a fresh pair of eyes!

Moving from London to work here, I knew little of Birmingham and what I knew was not generally admired. Unloved accents, the impenetrable Spaghetti Junction, a concrete jungle of a shopping centre. Here it is, Merry Christmas. In my defence, the national (for which read London) press always overlooked Birmingham - that is, when they weren't ridiculing it. They still do, preferring to pretend that Manchester is the second city in all but name (why exactly did the BBC move to Salford, when it already had an outpost here?). I was so wrong, and I apologise to everyone for being such a fool.

So, what words would I now use about this fabulous city to set the record straight?

Independent. Birmingham has independence of mind and attitude to all things. Independent art galleries, coffee shops, markets, cinemas, arts centres, food shops and much more.

Energy.  From the moment you set foot here there is a buzz about this city - through its arts and music scene, its start-up and established businesses, through its architecture; it feels cutting edge. The people who live here love their city and make no apology for doing so.  Frankly, they don't care what other people think because they know that Birmingham is the place to be.

Creativity. Everywhere you turn there is innovation. More start- ups than anywhere in the UK, more imagination and determination to get things done. Just take the Custard Factory. Or the new crowd-funded Impact Hub in Digbeth. An eclectic mix of artists, designers, entrepreneurs, thinkers and doers made this exciting project happen through sheer effort of will. 

Risky (in a good way). Birmingham takes risks. It did with the old library, a brutalist masterpiece that, like Marmite, people either love or hate; it has done with the new library, with much the same outcome! 

Young. This is a city full of young, energetic people. More young professionals move here from London than to any other UK city.

Whatever you want from life, you can get it here. Michelin starred restaurants? Try Adams, or Purnells. Art Lover? Visit the wonderful Barber Institute, or the daringly curated exhibitions at the Ikon, one of the most highly regarded modern art galleries among artists worldwide. Or try the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, which hosts touring exhibitions as well as housing one of the largest collections of pre-Raphaelite art in the world.

Music? Any music you want is here - from internationally acclaimed artists at the Arena, the Welsh National Opera's visits to the Hippodrome, at the Jam House or The Digbeth Institute,  the Conservatoire and CBSO, to concerts and free jazz in the foyer of Symphony Hall, which itself has one of the finest acoustics in the world.

Want to party? We have an eclectic mix of pubs, clubs, comedy venues, a thriving Gay scene, and all with that certain Birmingham outlook that parties like there is nowhere else to be.

And for me, there isn't.

Words by PJB @TamertonPJB #BetterInBrum

Photos: Birmingham Favourites @BrumFaves