Birmingham 2022 has announced the artists and performers that will be part of the seven magnificent Neighbourhood Festival Sites which will be held in locations across the Commonwealth Games host city.
The programme at each site will reflect a different aspect of the Games, from the ‘warm-up’ in Castle Vale to the notions of speed and boundaries in Sparkhill. The theme for Edgbaston will be water, whilst Yardley will focus on our ability to play.
On 28 and 29 July, Castle Vale will host the first Neighbourhood Site, the spotlight will be on Farnborough Fields where the Festival Sites team will kick off the action, bringing people together for a silent disco and screening of the Opening Ceremony. The fields will also see a performance from Wolverhampton-born fusion singer NEONE the Wonderer and an intriguing 14-minute dance act from O'Driscoll Collective, exploring the power of emotion.
On 29 and 30 July, the first-ever relaxed Neighbourhood Festival Site staged by a Commonwealth Games will be based at Sense Touchbase Pears in Selly Oak. The site will welcome those with disabilities, offering them a safe and relaxed space in which they can enjoy the premier of Bostin Creative’s film ‘Personal Best’ and experience a range of accessible arts and crafts workshops from The Creation Station.
On the 30 and 31 of July, Sparkhill Park will open its doors, hosting performances from Bhangra musicians Dhol Blasters and leading UK South Asian dance company Sonia Sabri Company.
On 1 and 2 August, Edgbaston Reservoir will hold a jam-packed programme of activities for families, including free water sports taster sessions. Celebrating the skills and spirit of boxers, Sterran Dance Theatre will perform a grime dance routine entitled ‘Going the Distance’ and Bhangra dancer, actor, and children’s performer, Sohan Kailey, will bring a sense of fun to the reservoir through Bhangra pop fusion music and interactive dance.
On 3 and 4 August, Oaklands Recreation Ground in Yardley will offer a range of activities designed to encourage everyone to move together. From skateboard lessons from Project Number 5, to dancing to the fusion of R&B, indie, and hip-hop music by Lekky. From making rubber jewellery at a recycled art workshop with creative duo Paul Green and Sophie Handy to cycling with contemporary clowns with the Bicycle Ballet Co, there will be something for everyone!
On 5 and 6 of August there will be a variety of cultural activities at award-winning Handsworth Park. The Hearts Aglow Steelband will offer wonderful sounds for everyone to dance to and Black Heritage Walks Network will partner with Canaan Brown, offering immersive street art workshops.
Finally, on 7 and 8 August, Ward End Park will champion multiculturalism as the Birmingham 2022 Games come to a close. Aayushi will perform a fusion of striking song and poetry and Impact Steelband will bring the site to life with impactful music for everyone to enjoy.
Although the programme on offer will differ from site to site, Coventry-based dance company, Ascension Dance, has been chosen to deliver their outdoor physical performance The Other Side, across all sites.
The programme for each of the sites has been curated by seven Neighbourhood Producers with strong connections to the community and the local arts and culture network. These producers have ensured that the programme includes a diverse mix of art and performance, filling each site with a dedicated celebration of culture and sport.
Tim Hodgson, the Senior Producer for the Birmingham 2022 Culture programme, said: “We are delighted to share the programme of activity and entertainment that will be taking place at each of the seven free Neighbourhood Festival Sites that will be opening their doors in just a few weeks’ time. It is fantastic that a variety of local artists and performers will be present at the sites, representing the vibrant scene of arts and culture in Birmingham and the West Midlands.
“Offering a variety of music, dance, workshops, DJ sets and classes, that are truly representative of the city and its people is something we are really proud of.”
Ashley Jordan, Executive Director of Ascension Dance, said: "We are so excited to bring the joy of dance and movement to neighbourhoods across Birmingham. For residents, having the Commonwealth Games happening in their city is a momentous opportunity and as a regional art organisation, and we can't wait to bring joy, fun and activities to people of all ages from across Birmingham."
Emily Summers, Artistic Director of Bostin’ Creative, who will be the premiering film ‘Personal Best’ at Sense Touchbase Pears, said: “I am delighted to be a part of the programme for the Relaxed Festival Site and I’m so proud to share the stories and hopes of five inspirational disabled people living in Brum. Our hope is that we strive for a future of greater inclusivity, together.”
Each of the Neighbourhood Festival Sites will be active for two days at a time, creating a tour of the host city for the duration of the Games. Alongside the free activities that have been organised, a selection of local traders will be selling food and drink, offering flavours from across the Commonwealth. Birmingham 2022 Mascot, Perry the Bull, will also visit the sites every single day, entertaining and engaging with children and families.
To ensure that all of the Neighbourhood Festivals Sites are as accessible as possible, British Sign language (BSL) interpretation will be available whenever there are presenters on stage, and on-site assistance for visitors will also be available at the Festival Information point located in the pink festival tent.
For visitors that live locally, the best way to get to the Neighbourhood Festival Sites will be on foot or via public transport. The only parking available at the sites is for blue badge holders. This parking will be free but has limited availability and will be offered on a first come first served.
More information about the Neighbourhood Festival Sites, with more information about the programme for each of the seven sites, can be found at birmingham2022.com/festival-sites