7 Inch Cinema
Since first flickering into life as a regular short film event at The Rainbow pub in 2003 7 Inch Cinema have roved around the world, bringing small but perfectly-formed visual nuggets to many arty festivals and digital marketing, including Aurora, Green Man, Rotterdam, Supersonic and even an inflatable decontamination tent at Shambala festival.
In 2006 the organisation launched the impressively larger Flatpack Festival, now extended to a six-day event that takes their “mixtape programming” to spaces all over Birmingham. Diverse Flatpack venues include the UK’s oldest cinema, The Electric, Birmingham Town Hall, IMAX at Millenium Point, St Martin’s Church and various bars and warehouses around Digbeth. Flatpack has gone from strength to strength, receiving warm praise from its Google-eyed audience and plaudits from local and national press.
Capsule creates extraordinary events for adventurous audiences, identifying some of the otherwise indescribable connections between contemporary music and art. Capsule is responsible for Supersonic Festival, starting as a one-day event in Birmingham in 2003; Supersonic is now an internationally renowned experimental music and arts festival. At the festival’s heart is a passion for genre-bending sound and performance. Capsule also conceived & delivered Home of Metal, a project that celebrates Birmingham and the Black Country’s musical heritage – the birthplace of Heavy Metal. 2011 saw Capsule produce a season of Home of Metal events, ranging from a large-scale social history exhibition, visual art shows, live music, film and the first UK Heavy Metal academic conference.
Craftspace collaborates with artists and communities to present all forms of making. It organises nationally touring exhibitions highlighting the exceptional work of some of the best international artists and makers. For example, the current Taking Time: Craft and the Slow Revolution exhibition, curated with Helen Carnac, features 19 leading makers and artists. It considers how contemporary craft shares the values and philosophies of the Slow Movement, which developed as a response to increasingly fast lifestyles and unsustainable consumer culture.
The Custard Factory
The genesis of the Custard Factory is a love story. The wife of nineteenth century industrial chemist Alfred Bird was allergic to eggs: a tragic state of affairs because she loved puddings. Alfred devoted himself to making egg-free delicacies and came up with Custard Powder in 1837. Soon a favourite dessert up and down the nation, it even fed the British armed forces in the Boer, First and Second World Wars. The custard has now gone but in its place is a roly-poly pudding of small creative businesses.
Renovated almost 20 years ago, The Custard Factory became the beating heart of Birmingham’s new arts and media quarter. It is a hive of buzzing creative companies ranging from PR agencies, TV production offices and award winning design teams. In addition to this there are social enterprises, magazine companies, AV technicians, fashion agencies and new media creators. The wide variety of spaces can cater for anything from sole illustrators or self employed artists to medium sized web design companies.
Not many public galleries come with their own manual but for Eastside Projects it was standard operating procedure. Conceived by artist-curator Gavin Wade, who runs and founded the space with a collective consisting of Simon & Tom Bloor, Céline Condorelli, Ruth Claxton and James Langdon, the gallery continues to break moulds. On the first page of the manual it proudly proclaims, “Eastside Projects is an artist-run space, a public gallery for the city of Birmingham and the world.”
Incorporating, and making visible, principals of art and architecture, artists are encouraged to tailor the large warehouse space to suit their exhibitions. Ambitious installations, films, plays, sculptures and a dynamic artists associate scheme, called Extra Special People, encourage audiences to question their movement and positioning within the space. Unusually, artists often leave parts of their exhibition in place which adds to the gallery overall and creates a cumulative effect of progress. Permanent works include the Eastside Projects office – a mutated wooden shack called Pleasure Island by Heather and Ivan Morison. Other long term works have been installed by artists Matthew Harrison, Peter Fend, ISAN, Mark Titchner, Lawrence Weiner, Barbara Holub, Scott Myles, Susan Collis and Liam Gillick.
A man in a giant bird’s nest on the side of a high-rise; Una White’s name spelled out in our lights above the city; a flock of hot-air balloons playing music at dawn…
In the decade since Fierce Festival was born in 1997 its programme of live art, performances, public interventions, talking-point moments and talked-about parties established it as a key date on the UK’s cultural calendar. Fierce Festival collaborates with diverse partners across Birmingham (from Birmingham’s Town Hall to a bus, a barber shop and an Art Deco swimming pool) and many of the We Are Eastside organisations, bringing local, national and international artists to the city and encouraging their work to be shaped by the city.