Some Cities Birmingham

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The arts are a powerful, and often underestimated, positive tool to steer social change – that’s why we love what Some Cities do. This not for profit Community Interest Company focuses on how the arts can unite communities, and specifically the power that photography has to bridge social gaps here in Birmingham.


Their vision is to see Birmingham become the UK centre of photography, working with organisations and individuals, regardless of photography skill or personal background, on a variety of exciting projects across the city. With a whole programme of high quality training, seminars, exhibitions and inclusive participatory photographic opportunities on offer, as well as an affordable and easily accessible Dark Room, Some Cities is changing the way the people of Birmingham interact with the arts, each other, and our amazing city.


Not only does it allow amateur photographers greater exposure, but it offers a unique insight into our diverse, vibrant city, creating an extensive digital archive of life and culture in the region, and encouraging it’s people to share their untold stories and personal lives. From our urban city streets to stunning panoramic landscapes, the images shared via SomeCities really will change the way you see Birmingham and unleash a whole new level of appreciation and love for our town!


SomeCities proves that everyone can get involved with and enjoy the arts opportunities on offer in Birmingham, and that gets a huge thumbs up from us!


Check out their incredible work and get involved here.

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People Stand Together – Community Mural At PST August 4th – 10th

Ok so we can proudly confirm our next community graffiti mural will take pride on walls of Birmingham’s best, and a personal favourite of ours, music venue PST, Digbeth.


Heading up the Brum Spirit community commission will be one of France’s most notable street artists RCF1, who will work in collaboration with Brum Spirit veteran and Birmingham’s own graffiti artist HOAKSER.

These two talented artists will work to immortalise the wealth of history associated with Digbeth, and culture of the local community in the mural, entitled “People Stand Together” from August 4th to 10th.

If you have ventured out to Kings Heath you will have seen the 2013 Brum Spirit commission on Kings Heath Parade ‘Welcome To Kings Heath’ mural, which was the work of HOAKSER, and visiting Brazilian artist Ficore. The brief was to paint a community inspired mural to promote local pride in the area. The mural caused a bit of a stir, and was welcomed with open arms by local residents and business owners.

Birmingham’s own HOAKSER, whose work ranges from private commissions to solo exhibitions of which are currently held in galleries in 13 countries across five continents, why not take a look at the Q&A he did for us ahead of the collaboration.

HOAKSER will head up the mural and work alongside RCF1. RCF1 who is originally from Paris and over 25 years experience has seen his work exhibited all around the world, from Tokyo to Buenos Aires, one his careers most notable points saw his distinctive primary colour patterns called upon as part of EDF ‘Art Alongside Energy’ 2013 programme, and features on the side of the EDF power station in Rio State.

These two talented artists will join forces to paint for the first time, and will take inspiration from portraits of Highgate residents taken by Some Cities photographers Dan Burwood and Andrew Jackson, to embellish the facade of roots music venue PST with a large scale mural. With the challenge of reflecting the history and culture of Digbeth in one painting, we are calling upon YOU! Brummies let us know where/what/who you think deserves to adorn the walls of PST, help us to champion the things that you think make our unique city such a great place to live, #BrumSpirit and all that!

Nowadays Highgate is categorised by the City Council as amongst the poorest of Birmingham’s Priority Neighbourhoods. Official statistics like these do little to champion the area. The team of artists behind Brum Spirit aim to celebrate Highgate as a beacon of mutual tolerance and eclecticism, as well as getting to know better the people who live there. It’s hoped the artwork, entitled People Stand Together, will honour the neighbourhood as a cosmopolitan and welcoming area, where families from across the world have made their homes, since the city was founded by the tribe of Beorma, on the banks of the Rea, back in 700 AD.

HOW TO MAKE THE WALL: It’s easy so don’t sweat it, you can either email directly to Brum Spirit by email [] or if you wanna’ win a lovely Brum Spirit T-shirt then head here  and answer the simple question; “where is your favourite place in Birmingham?”

Next step – tell all your friends about it and get them to enter! #BrumSpirit. 


100 (and ten) Swimmers

The 100 Swimmers credit Attilio FiumarellaA big #BrumSpirit shout out to all the swimmers from across the city who took part in a one-off photo event as part of 100 Swimmers to  highlighting the plight of one of the Birmingham’s most important community buildings, Moseley Road Baths.

The 100 Swimmers, by photographer Attilio Fiumarella, was the completing instalment of the community photographic project entitled The Swimmers, which we were fortunate to exhibit  as part of Muzikstan Midsummer Festival in partnership with Some Cities.

The 100 Swimmers project, which took place Sunday July 20th and saw over  100 swimmers, photography fans, city heritage enthusiasts and community supporters fill the empty Gala Pool at Moseley Road Baths in Balsall Heath in reaction to the news that Birmingham City Council intends to close the historic building permanently in 2015. We have a huge amount of love for this project, not only have we been champions of the exhibition, but also the nature of the story itself showcases a great example of what #BrumSpirit means to us.

The project caused quite the stir  and became the third highest English story on the BBC News website…featured on the Daily Mail and even into the Scottish press – A big #BrumSpirit to that.  

Some Cities are calling out to everyone involved,  whether you participated, spread the love online or only saw the story in the press to get back together again to see Attilio’s photograph of the event. The image will be unveiled this Thursday July 31st, from 6.30pm, at The Old Print Works, over the road from the baths, and will have  Attilio on hand to unveil his image and discuss his thoughts  behind the shoot.  As will Stephen Burke, who like Attulio, was a recipient of the Some Cities bursary. 

Also be sure to check out the Italian-born, Birmingham-based photographer Attilio Fiumarella, and also why not contribute your own images to the Some Cities social project? The remarkable digital collection taken in and around Birmingham currently sits at over 100,000 images and can be of a wealth of subject matter. If your interested in sharing your view of Birmingham, images can be sent directly to Some Cities by email [] or via Twitter, tagged with #BrumSpirit and #somecities #brumfotos, and will form part of an ongoing extensive and authentic archive of life in the city.


The 100 Swimmers – Attilio Fiumerella

100 Swimmers

Here is an idea which has caught our attention for not only being the embodiment of #BrumSpirit but also because we were lucky enough to feature the exhibition “The Swimmers” by Attilio Fiumarella in collaboration with Some Cities at the Muzikstan Midsummer Festival, which took place June 28th at the Old Print works.

The 100 Swimmers event is calling on you kind people of Birmingham, in reaction to the news that Birmingham City Council intends to close the Moseley Road Baths permanently in 2015, following the opening of a new sports facility.

As a form of dissent against its closure, The 100 Swimmers would like to gather, as the name would suggest, 100 Swimmers inside the Gala Pool and immortalise them as the Terracotta Army in a magnificent and powerful picture. It will be the last image of the photographic project “The Swimmers”, developed during the last year in the Moseley Road Baths.

The 100 Swimmers will happen Sunday July 20th from 10 AM in the Moseley Road Baths, Brummies If you would like to get involved, send a confirmation to the following email address:

Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit and stand with the other 99 swimmers!

Muzikstan Midsummer Festival: Full of Brum Spirit

We marked the rebrand to ‘Brum Spirit’ on Saturday at Muzikstan Midsummer Festival, which took place at The Old Print Works, Balsall Heath.

As you know Professional Incredibles, the team behind many of our city’s well loved cultural events announced that Espirito Brum has rebranded to Brum Spirit, if you have read The Story of Brum Spirit you will know the announcement follows a period of growth and development for our collective.

To mark the arrival of Brum Spirit, in true Brummie style we had a big party, having teamed up with Birmingham Promoters, Some Cities, St. Paul’s Trust and Celebrating Sanctuary for the Midsummer Festival edition of Muzikstan, which took place last Saturday, at the Old Print Works.

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The event brought our usual mantra of ‘trying something new with someone new’ to the Muzikstan Midsummer Festival, and offered attendees an event made up of two halves. Throughout the day Old Print Works resident artists provided attendees free makers workshops for children of all ages, alongside Some Cities  who exhibited interactive photography of portraits taken through out the day.

Providing the soundtrack to the day was Blue Murda, who offered a safe haven way from the rain for musicians and audience members to jam and showcase new material together. Our highlight included a special cover of ABBA Dancing Queen, which when you think about it is the perfect jam/sing-along song, who doesn’t know the words!

We were taken into the evening of Muzikstan with performances from an eclectic lineup, featuring the very talented Senegalese kora virtuoso Kadialy Kouyate, who shared his West African griot repertoire with Birmingham for the first time. Also taking to the stage was Dirty Old Folkers, who brought their folk flavours full of fun and quirks, alongside The Mistakings, Tom Peel, and inspirational community choir Voices Together led by Daz Dolczech and Ann Jones.

We were lucky enough to have the very talented Ilvars Veinbergs down on the day capturing the all the fun and frolics, we hear the short video is almost finished so watch out for us sharing the link, you never know you might got yourself on film 🙂

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We would like to thank all you lovely lot you  who came down and took part in our first official Brum Spirit event, keep your eyes peeled for the photography from the day and night which we will be adding to our Facebook over the next couple of days, and make sure you have signed up to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss our next Brum Spirit event!

Next time you see something that gives you Brum Spirit, why not take a snap and share it with us via Twitter, by simply using the hashtags #BrumSpirit and #somecities 🙂

The Story Of Brum Spirit

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So what is Brum Spirit? How can you describe it? What does it mean?

We feel Brum Spirit is all about when you feel full of pride about being a Brummie, and living in this unique and vibrant city of culture.

It all started with an Espirito…

Over the last 4 years we have been fortunate enough to facilitate and host, in our humble opinion some of the best international collaborations. With the help and support from all you lovely lot we have made ourselves quite at home in cities across Brazil, and districts across Birmingham – especially Digbeth, Kings Heath and Balsall Heath. We have been lucky enough to put on events showing the spirit of Brum and embracing the spirit of Brazil!

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 10.45.21In 2011 there was Rebel Spirit 

When the chance to open our doors to an international exchange presented itself, of course we were very excited, and a little nervous. The other editions of the Espirito Mundo circuit were well established elsewhere in Europe, and we knew that, in agreeing to host the UK edition of the festival circuit, as a tiny emerging comany, we were taking on a big responsibility.

We decided the best way to work was to start small and build from there, creating connections between visiting Brazilian artists and their counterparts along the way, and collaborating with existing organisations in Birmingham to enrich their programmes with something from further afield.

Things began in March 2011, with Gilberto Mauro and Ricardo Garcia performed A Good and Giving Heart at The Edge in Digbeth, as part of that year’s Flatpack Film Festival. This audio visual homage to Gilberto’s great uncle Humberto Mauro, and his home state of Minas Gerais, was our first little step in surfacing here in Birmingham.

In June 2011, reggae artist Jota III visited from his home in Espirito Santo for the first time, for our inaugural edition of underground music celebration Rebel Spirit. This took place at PST, just around the corner from The Edge in Digbeth, as part of Bass Festival 2011.  We’ve been working with both Jota and PST ever since, along with a growing bunch of talented producers, DJs, MCs and other musicians who travel the world to play out, and call Birmingham their home.

Come September 2011, it was time for the big push – we welcomed 28 visiting musicians and visual artists from across Brazil, to stay with us in Birmingham for a week, and participate in Espirito Brum 2011.

We worked alongside Friction Arts at the Edge, and PST in Digbeth, to run performances, workshops and interventions that allowed the artists involved to explore new relationships, and new ways of connecting with each other, and the visiting public. The artists also took part in Jazz at the Spotted Dog, performances at The Yardbird, a music industry debate and workshops at South Birmingham College, and other interventions besides. It was great to invite back old friends like Gilberto Mauro:

We also welcomed new acquaintances into the mix – we still get emails asking when Babilak Bah will come back – for many who visited Espirito Brum in the first year, his exploratory performance at PST was a real highlight.

For us it was really important to unite Brummie and Brazilian artists on the programme, encouraging creative dialogue and developing audiences for everyone at once. We found that when the visiting artists first arrived from Brazil, and saw the warehouse spaces in which we worked, and the lack of separation between audience and artist, they began to worry that things would not be professionally run, because they were used to much more formal performance settings back home.

As the days went on, however, they began to settle in, and as they shared in performances by Birmingham’s finest – like Paul Murphy – they began to relax, and understand a little more about us.

For our part, we learned loads! It was quite an unexpected process, exhilarating as well as stressful, and we knew that the concept would take a while to sink in with people here, at the same time it would always be growing and changing. We were really lucky to count on the support of Arts Council England in this first year, as well as the backing of all those who gave up their time and space to make our visitors feel at home and put on a good show.

We opted to step up a notch. Firstly, we called on the services of our incredible graphic design partners Wild Ilk Design Studio, to start building our brand image and reflecting the Espirito Brum ethos. Secondly, we built a relationship with Tiger Bam Communications, without whose support we wouldn’t be getting the word out and stepping things up as the years have progressed. Time to take on a serious adventure or two…

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In 2012 Birmingham welcomed Brazil!

Back in 2012 we welcomed a roster of highly talented and respected Brazilian artists into our multicultural and vibrant fold, rather than marking out the differences between us, we were inspired through music and visual art and discovered common ground – both within our own city, and far beyond its borders.

It all began in May 2012, when we traveled with 25 artists to the first edition of Espirito Mundo Brazil, in São Paulo and Vitória. This marked the start of many international collaborations between UK and Brazilian artists, which we were able to premier at our Espirito Brum events in September 2012 at various locations around Brum.

Highlights from 2012 included: Our adventure to Brazil and the relationships we were able to grow and develop along the way. Dragões de Komodo also caught a plane for the first time and left Brazil to embark on their love affair with Munchbreak, DJ Switch and DJ Feva. We also had wonderful performances from Dea Trancoso, Paula Pi, Joelle Barker (JOLT), Rubiane Maia, Ska’d for Life and Rioghnach Connolley (Honeyfeet) and made so many great memories. We were recognised in the cultural round up of the FIFA Brazil World Cup 2014! Not bad ey?

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In 2013 Espirito Brum met Kings Heath

Based in Kings Heath, we felt very much like a part of the community, to prove it Brazilian artist Ficore and Kings Heath original Hoakser collaborated on the graffiti masterpiece that is the ‘Welcome to Kings Heath’ community inspired mural, taking prime place on the side the high street.

We kicked off celebrations on Kings Heath Village Square, and teamed up with local foodies Brum Yum Yum to offer live music, dance and workshops to the vibrant Kings Heath community. With Brummie samba veterans Oya Batucada, North London new-comers Defkon1, and Birmingham’s Mendi Singh on the bill, we were also privilege to be shown how to Forrό in Brum with quick stepped demonstrations, and live jamming from Flautins Matuá bringing everyone to their feet. We hosted drumming workshops for all the family, in conjunction with Our Big Gig – the free nationwide event to encourage interaction with music.
AND we premiered “Don’t Cut off Your Dreadlocks: video with Brazilian reggae singer and rapper Jota III featuring Pablo rider who performed live at the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath for the launch of the video, which was filmed around Birmingham by 144 Media, and features many of our glorious landmarks.

We were starting to see the benefits of ‘Trying Something New.’ 

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“Trying Something New With Some One New” 

A mantra we quickly adopted and developed. We set out to create multidisciplinary events for people to get involved in, with the aim to bring together communities from varying backgrounds, to enable people to meet their neighbours – whilst perhaps learning something. This idea became very important to us, and in 2014 we brought you:

Group Image- Drum Together Brum Collective (with Damon Wilding on the far right) Workshop

Drum Together Brum… Brum together

The inspirational community percussion group, Drum Together Brum, led by percussionist Damon Wilding, formed to learn something new with someone new, with the aid of Our Big Gig Extra and Birmingham City Council. Early in the year Drum together Brum premiered the efforts of the group at our event Brum Together, at All Saints church in Kings Heath.

The idea behind Brum Together was to create a free multi faith event to unite local residents from all walks of life, to come together and find common ground in learning a new skill. You can read all about it here :).

Drum Together Brum have now launched their own campaign to bring you a community street party on Sunday July 13th in Highgate – the event campaign reached its goal of £830 through crowd funding platform Space Hive. You know what that means – more free family friendly fun right on your doorstep!



Rebel Spirit:

In association with IDFB we brought an evening of Brazilian reggae and hip hop flavours, celebrated through dance and music.  The dance floor was heaving with Forró in BrumCapoeira Cordão de Ouro and Irineu Nogueira and the soundtrack came from the likes of DJ Feva, Jota III, and DJ Silence to name a few. Some Cities also captured portraits from the night can be seen above, and marked the start of a new project which seeks to showcase the culture and people behind live music venues like PST, why not check out the teaser from the event here. We are please to announce we were able to raise over £400 from ticket sales on the night, which will go towards creating social dance projects in Birmingham over the summer. Read all about the Rebel Spirit event here and whilst your doing that why not have this brilliant mix on in the back ground, Brasil by the very talented DJ Feva!

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Studio Open Day

Set in the Old Print Works in Balsall Heath the Open Day allowed 200 people to have a go at something new with someone new, in one of Brum’s upcoming and vibrant arts venues. The idea behind the event was to encourage the local community to get involved in free arts workshops on the day whilst exploring and utilising this great space on their doorstep. We had various resident artist offering up their knowledge in; open ceramics studios with Becky Belcher, Multimedia pieces and workshops with Anita Roye,Design technology with Richard at CDTX, Crafty Business workshops with Sophie Handy, and the launch of our Looms Room with Mary, Becky, Niki, Sarah and Abi.

 We Found Our …


We are please to announce that we have undergone a small rebrand. Whilst our ethos is still the same, over the years of working with many great creatives and artists we have feel we have developed in direction, and we would love you to take a look our around our new Website, Facebook and Twitter page to see what we have been up to behind the scenes!

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So whats new…?

Take a look at the Q&A here to see in the organisers own words what Brum Spirit is all about here.

And maybe we will see you at our next  BRUM SPIRIT event?





Q&A With Dan Burwood

We were lucky enough to catch up with the very talented Dan Burwood, who co-runs Some Cities – the city-wide photography social project and  The Darkroom, based in The Old Print Works – take a little look at all the great things Some Cities will be bringing to Muzikstan this Saturday!


Name: Dan Burwood

Occupation: Photographer / Some Cities Director / Teacher

From: Swansea/ Aylesbury

Live: Brum / on the canal in a boat

Tell us about Muzikstan?

It’s a movement of music transcending borders and boundries / one of the first cultural events to make good and consistent use of the Old Print Works space. It’s a great, friendly night out.

Q) What’s your involvement in Muzikstan? 

I’m running photography workshops and making Instant-ish portraits

Q) What can people expect from Muzikstan?

A wide range of good vibes, interesting and creative activities, varied grass roots music and great people of all ages.

Q) What made you decide on the lineup/outline of the day?

I have a studio/ project space at the OPW; The Instant-ish photography workshop I run is a great intro into analogue photography, it’s fun and a bit of a spectacle to boot. You can turn around an analogue portrait in ten minutes, using a 1940s camera and 100 year old technology.

Q) Why The Old Print Works?

The Darkroom found a natural home here; there were darkrooms here before for the processes used to make the decals and transfers Butchers Printed Products designed and printed for the trades of the city and beyond. I’ve repurposed some of the kit and one of the original spaces to create a community photography resource specialising in analogue process, one of the few left in the UK.

Q) What is the best part about working in Birmingham?

The accents of the people who live here; the diversity and the unexpected discoveries. The cultural heritage: Balsall Heath was an important centre for Surrealism; Steel Pulse and Black Sabbath.. what more could you ask for?

Q) The worst?

The constant – if diminishing – need for certain spokespeople for the city to apologise for it and compare it to other places. All this world city shit. It just is itself alright get the fuck over it!

Q) What is your favourite place in Birmingham?

Dad’s lane allotments / Icknield Port canal loop on a misty November evening / The Lamp Tavern

Q) What one thing would you change about the city?

Add a proper river

Q) Favourite Brummie saying?

Everything anyone says

Q) What is Brum Spirit? What does it mean to you?

It’s the roots, the counterculture, the number 11…

Q) What has happened recently that gave you Brum Spirit?

Photographing The Feast Project’s inaugural awards ceremony in the Council House

Q) Tell us about your creative goals for the next year, what do you have bubbling away?

Big plans for long form photographic commissions, international exchanges and residencies through the Some Cities site, and collaborations with various institutions…

Q&A With Kadialy Kouyate

The very talented musician, Kadialy Kouyate will be joining us at Muzikstan Midsummer Festival, June 28th at the Old Print Works, to share his music inspired by the West African griot – why not check out Kadialy’s music here whilst reading this Q & A ahead of his performance. Kadialy-Kouyate

Name:  Kadialy Kouyate

Occupation: Musician

From: Senegal

Live: In London

Q) What makes you proud about where you are from?

A) The hospitality

Q) If you could change one thing about your hometown what would it be?

A) Poverty

Q) Who influencers you most in:

Life:  Hard working people

Music: Dedicated musicians

Art: The natural side of it

Q) How would you describe your genre of music?

A)World music

Q) What’s your involvement in Muzikstan?

A) Sharing my tradition and my musical knowledge with everybody.

Q) What can people expect from your involvement on the day?

A) Happiness and joy

Q) What is the best part about your job?

A) putting a smile on people face

Q) The worst?

A) Failure to satify the audience

Q) What would you be doing if you weren’t doing your current job?

A) A dancer

Q) Where is the best place you have ever visited? Why?

A) Asuncion in Paraguay. Because of the reach musical culture of the harp embraced by everybody.

Q) What is the best part about performing in Birmingham?

A) The love from the audience

Q) Where is your favourite place where you are from?

A) Kolda

Q) Where is the best place you have performed so far?

A) In Moscow

Q) What gives you pride in where you are from?

A) The meaning of socialising

Q) Whats your favourite saying where you are from and what does it mean?

Asalamou Aleikou and it means peace be with you

Q) What is Brum Spirit? What does in mean to you?

A) Will answer that after the experience.

Rebel Spirit, in association with IDFB 2014

What a great time we had, running the fourth edition of Rebel Spirit – our celebration of Birmingham’s underground music scene – in association with International Dance Festival Birmingham 2014.

As part of IDFB‘s Paint the Town Red Series – a series of events throughout the festival which drew attention to the city’s varied social dance movements – we put together a really eclectic lineup – a bunch of artists from all walks of life, who had the pleasure of whipping up PST’s main room into a light hearted frenzy of dance and movement.

Forro in Brum leading the dance

Global roots venue PST has a 15 year history springing from the Jamaican blues dance movement.

Where better for breakdance initiative Open Circles to join forces with Northeastern Brazilian social dance enthusiasts Forró in Brum, Nottingham School of Samba featuring pioneering Afro Brazilian choreographer Irineu Nogueira, and Capoeira Cordão de Ouro Birmingham, for an open floor event where everyone got a chance to try out new moves?

Forro in Brum at Rebel Spirit by Dan Burwood

Brazilian reggae and hip hop star Jota III joined forces with DJ Destruction Turntablist Champion DJ Feva and DJ Silence to host proceedings, with guest appearances from old school reggae vocalists Pablo Rider, Lionart and Juggla. It’s not every day you see roots reggae, hip hop, samba, forró, breakdance and capoeira join together all under one roof!

Some Cities Portraits from Rebel Spirit by Andrew Jackson

Almost 200 people joined us for a welcoming vibe, home cooked Jamaican food and a roof top after party that took us through to dawn. Image makers from Izuna Visuals and Some Cities created gorgeous photos and video of the night – so even if you didn’t make it, you can get a little sense of what went on. There are also a few shots on our Instagram and Facebook pages.

We were thrilled to discover, when the dust had settled, that proceeds from ticket sales had raised £400 to support social dance movements in Birmingham. Any excuse for a boogie ;).