Wednesday, 29 January 2020



Midlands based DANCE CLINIC is delighted to have been chosen as the official training and injury management support for the Centre of Advanced Training (CAT) working with internationally known DanceXchange in Birmingham.
The partnership, the first of its kind, will see DANCE CLINIC work closely with dance students providing professional screenings and injury preventive strategies to enhance performance, career development and help create the next generation of dancers.
DANCE CLINIC is an independent clinic based in the city’s historic Jewellery Quarter run by Phil Birch a Soft Tissue Injury Specialist and Darryl Canham a Martial Arts Practitioner, Performer and Physical Conditioning Coach. 

‘Their knowledge of biomechanics and the ability to realign the body is second to none’
Rory Mackay, Ballet Professional

Darryl Canham, Zoƫ Hornby-Walsh, Phil Birch
DANCE CLINIC’S Phil Birch has over 35-years experience in the field of dance and performing arts including 24 years with Birmingham Royal Ballet where he treated some of the dance world’s most famous icons including Rudolph Nureyev, Sylvie Guillem and Darcy Bussell. 

Darryl Canham has enjoyed great success over the last 25 years improving client’s performances, physical conditioning and moving them into resilient states of physical health and beyond the injuries that high performance athletes get from time to time.

Phil saidDanceXchange are very forward thinking and innovative and we are delighted to be working with them on this fantastic scheme which provides talented dance students a chance to train with highly qualified professional dancers. Here at DANCE CLINIC we have already screened over 40 students on the scheme looking at posture, balance, identifying any existing injuries and helping to put together dance specific strength and conditioning strategies for each student.”

Many dancers are not given the opportunity to understand their body. A simple body imbalance which has gone unnoticed for some time may affect both their dance potential, performance, mental health and ultimately their career.

At the DANCE CLINIC the team are changing that. Through their specialist Soft Tissue Treatments and Strength and Conditioning Programmes, they work closely with dancers to help them to understand their own strengths and recognise weaknesses in their body.

Darryl added “Through our screenings we aim to encourage positive change, help each student to think differently about their body, be mindful of injury management, help them increase their confidence and wellbeing and achieve their absolute maximum potential as a professional dancer.”

The Centre of Advanced Training (CAT), led by DanceXchange and Sampad South Asian Arts and Heritage, is an elite training opportunity for young people aged 11-18, who show exceptional talent and potential in Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Contemporary styles.

The Contemporary strand, Dance Generation, recruits young people from the West Midlands, and the South Asian strand, Yuva Gati, is a national programme, recruiting students from across the country. The opportunity to study Bharatanatyam and Kathak at this elite level is unique to this CAT scheme within the UK.

Alexandra Henwood, Head of Learning and Participation at DanceXchange added “We are very pleased to be working with Dance Clinic as this partnership will offer the dancers on our CAT scheme a valuable opportunity to gain a holistic understanding of their anatomy, empowering them to become exceptional professional dancers with the bespoke tools to achieve a self-sustaining career.” 

As well as screenings for the CAT scheme DANCE CLINIC oversee 360 consultations per year working with over 100 professional and amateur dancers of all ages across the country from Ballroom, Irish Dancing and Hip-Hop to Contemporary Dance. The team have also worked with stars of Strictly Come Dancing and regularly carry their work over into dance schools and academies.

For further information on Dance Clinic go to

For further information on DanceXchange and the CAT scheme go to

Sunday, 26 January 2020

John Taylor Hospice aims to reach more people

Birmingham’s John Taylor Hospice is aiming to ensure more people can benefit from expert end of life care with its new three-year strategy.

Published in January 2020, Making Every Moment Matter: Our Three-Year Strategic Plan 2020-23 sets out ambitious plans for the hospice to provide more care into the future.

Launched during the hospice’s 110th anniversary year, it aims to build on John Taylor’s unique legacy of caring for generations of families.

The strategy had three priorities – consolidating the current business, extending clinical services and maximising income.

Within these streams are a host of aims including extending the community-based Hospice at Home service so it is available round-the-clock, improving care for people with dementia and continuing to develop personal health budgets for more people as they approach the end of their lives.

The hospice also plans to open more shops to raise income, to make increased use of technology and to continue to develop partnerships with other organisations. John Taylor Hospice is working closely with Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group, Birmingham and Solihull Sustainability and Transformation Partnership and other hospices to ensure end of life services are available for patients when, how and where they need them.

CEO Penny Venables said: “It has been nearly ten years since John Taylor Hospice left the NHS and today we are a charity caring for around 2,000 people each year as well as providing help and support for their family and friends.

“As we begin our 110th anniversary year it is important that we build on John Taylor’s special legacy of care in our plans for moving forward. When we opened in 1910 we were only able to provide care for a handful of patients – today we are not only supporting hundreds of people but also ensuring their care is specialised and tailored to their needs.

“Our strategy will ensure we continue to grow John Taylor Hospice so that we can achieve our mission – a compassionate and dignified death for all.”

To download a copy of John Taylor Hospice’s new strategy click and for more on the hospice’s 110th anniversary see

Saturday, 25 January 2020


A weekend of themed talks, discussion, debate and activities

6-8 March 2020, Malvern, Worcestershire

Welcome to Malvern Festival of Ideas, a multidisciplinary festival of ideas taking place in Malvern, Worcestershire. It is a themed weekend of talks, discussion and activities.

In 2020, the title of the Festival is A Brave New World? In a rapidly changing world, can we look to the future positively and with hope? In what ways can emerging ideas in areas relating to social policy, economics, medicine, science, politics, psychology, arts and foreign policy lead to a better world?

Themed sessions explore this topic from different perspectives. 

Friday 6th March 2020
7.30pm, The Chase School
The Past, Present and Future of the Human Brain – Professor Sir Colin Blakemore
Saturday 7th March 2020
10am, The Chase School
Inspiring Futures – Dr Irene Guijit
11.30am, The Chase School
Towards a Good Society – Professor Baroness Ruth Lister
2pm, The Chase School
The Systems That Make and Break Us – Anthony Painter
3.30pm, The Chase School
Stolen: How to Save the World from Financialisation – Grace Blakeley
7.30pm, The Chase School
How the World Thinks – Dr Julian Baggini
Sunday 8th March 2020
10am, The Chase School
How Can Intelligent Robots Help in the Operating Theatre? – Dr Subramanian Ramamoorthy
11.30am, The Chase School
Artificial Intelligence: Utopia or Dystopia, or Both? – Ivana Bartoletti
2pm, The Chase School
What Next for LGBT+ Rights? – Peter Tatchell
Saturday 7th March 2020
10am – 4pm, Malvern Cube
Featuring Physics for a Better World, The Wishing Tree with Bernadette Russell, Mathematics with Chris Budd and Mathematics with Tom Crawford.
Events are free, but booking is strongly recommended, through the Festival of Ideas website, Eventbrite or by phone.

A new puppet show with a vital environmental message - Thu 8th April - The Core Theatre, Solihull

Photo credit © Adam DJ Laity

Hattie Naylor and Pickled Image presents


Olivier-nominated Hattie Naylor has teamed up with Pickled Image once again, crafting a magical tale with an urgent environmental message. 

Something is happening in the woods, voices can be heard, and a strange metallic smell fills the air. Machines are gathering at its edge and a mysteriouscall is heard across the valley. Laura the ladybird, Jeffrey the spider, Brett the Woodlouse and Willoughby the Woodpecker are worried. Velda the Vixen knows there’s only one person who can help them – Granddad. But is there enough time? Can they save thewood? And will the mysterious stranger help?

Featuring a cast of extraordinary puppets, this uproarious family show not only entertains, but has an important and timely environmental message to share.

Generously supported by the Arts Council England.

Photo credit © Adam DJ Laity

Theatre listing:

Company website

Watch the Trailer:

Story by Pickled Image & Hattie Naylor
Full Tour Dates
£7 - £10
Age guidance: 3+ 
1 hour

Praise for Pickled Image / Hattie Naylor collaborations

“Magical, beguiling, emotional and eye-wideningly beautiful”

Bristol 24/7

“A delightfully designed family show” ★★★★

The Stage

"Utterly magical story of friendship told through beautiful puppetry - with a healthy amount of fart jokes!"

Bristol Arts Monster

“Endlessly beautiful, deeply fascinating, amazingly well made. Truly impressive handcraft, masterfully brought to life. A beautiful pieceof puppet theatre.”

Rana Blad (Norwegian Daily)

“Woodland tales with Granddad is a beautifully crafted piece.  Rich with environmental purpose and visual fun for all ages, it delivers its message with wonderfullydesigned puppets.”

Phil Tattersall-King. Deputy Head, Co-Curricular and Bedales Events Director.

Photo credit © Adam DJ Laity

About Pickled Image

Pickled Image was formed in 2000 by co-directors Vicky Andrews and Dik Downey. Between them they have designed, produced, directed and performed many internationallyrecognised, award-winning puppetry shows for theatre.

The companies' previous work includes Yana and the Yeti (2018-19), Coulrophobia (2014-17), The Little Shop of Horrors (2012-2014), Fireside Tales with Granddad(2008-2017),Christmas Tales with Granddad (2015-2017), Santa’s Little Trolls (2014-2017), Little Edie (2011), Hunger (2009-2013), Mange Tout (2008 – 2012), Wolf Tales (2009-2011) and Houdini’s Suitcase (2006 – 2008).







Tuesday 28th 

Gianni Tbay the extremely eccentric one man blues band from Rome presents The Blues Against Youth show at Henry’s Blueshouse at The Bull’s Head, Bishopsgate Street B15 1EJ.

7:15pm Blues Talkin: Gianni talks about his early blues influences and how they have guided his subsequent life.

8pm performance.

Admission free.


Tuesday 4th 

Once again, Tuesday Is Bluesday at Henry’s Blueshouse at The Bull’s Head.

7:15pm Blues Talkin’.

8pm The rocking and Rolling 1960s Blues of The 58s Blues Band.

Admission free

Tuesday 11th 

From Wayzata Minnesota, the return visit of one of the greatest living bluesmen Kent DuChaine

From 7pm – come early it will be full.

Admission free – that’s nada, zilch, zero

Thursday 13th 

Book Talk at Waterstones Birmingham, High St B4 7SL.

Ron and Jim Simpson talk about their book Don’t Worry ‘Bout The Bear.

The story of Jim Simpson’s 60 years in jazz, rock and blues, this is a candid, constantly surprising, frequently amusing and occasionally shocking account from Black Sabbath’s original manager, 50 years to the day since the release of their first album.

‘This hasto be one of the best autobiographical reads out there right now.’ – Simon Spillett, Jazz Rag

‘This is the best book on British music I’ve read for a very long time.’ – Andrew Liddle, Yorkshire Times

‘Teemingwith insight about so many names known in so many households’ – Just Jazz

6pm – admission is free, but booking in advance at is advised. 

Friday 14th 

The opening night of Birmingham Rocks at The Bulls Head Bishopsgate Street B15 1EJ. The new weekly must go to night of great music from the city that is the undisputed Rock and Roll Capital of the UK.

Along with Henry’s Blueshouse, Birmingham Rocks will celebrate the release of one of the most important rock albums in the history of music, exactly 50 years and one day since the first ever Heavy Metal albumthat changed the face of popular music forever, inspired generations of Heavy Metal bands and single-handedly inspired dozens of sub styles of metal. 

The album? Vertigo Records VO6: Black Sabbath by Birmingham’s own inspirational Black Sabbath. 

7pm Talk with Laurie Hornsby, author of the celebrated books Brum Rocked and Brum Rocked On plus Q&A

8pm The foremost Black Sabbath tribute Sabbra Cadabra perform the album Black Sabbath in its entirety

8:45pm Talk Earth to Sabbath to Worldwide Domination by Jim Simpson, Black Sabbath manager at that time plus Q&A

9:15pm Sabbra Cadabra perform Black Sabbath’s Paranoid album

Admission free

Saturday 15th 

Book talk at Waterstones Sutton Coldfield, The Parade B72 1PD

Ron and Jim Simpson talk about their book Don’t Worry ‘Bout The Bear 

7pm – admission is free

Full casting announced for Tartuffe at Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Full casting is announced for Tartuffe, which opens at Birmingham Repertory Theatre on 20 March. Originally directed by Birmingham-born Iqbal Khan for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in 2018, this celebrated version of Moliere’s classic comedy by Anil Gupta and Richard Pinto (The Office, Goodness Gracious Me, The Kumars at No. 42) is revived by The REP for a Brummie audience.
Set in a Pakistani-Muslim community in Birmingham, Tartuffe tells the story of charismatic chameleon and con man, Tahir Taufiq Arsuf, a religious leader for the 21st Century armed with a Twitter handle and the gift of the gab. 
Returning to play the title role (or Tahir Taufiq Arsuf as he is known in this production) is Asif Khan. Asif’s theatre credits include A Kind of People (Royal Court), The Hypocrite (RSC) and Queen of the Nile (Hull Truck). His TV credits include Diana & I (BBC) and Spooks (Series 10).
The cast also includes Raj Bajaj (Damee Pervaiz) and Simon Nagra (Imran Pervaiz) who both return to the production having been part of the show when it opened at the RSC. New to the production is Anshula Bain (Mariam Pervaiz), Elizabeth Cadwallader (DCI Sarah Wells / Pippa), Natalia Campbell (Amira Pervaiz), Natalie Grady (Darina, the Pervaiz’s cleaner), Clive Hayward (Khalil), Qasim Mahmood (Waqaas), Sakuntala Ramanee (Dadimaa Pervaiz) and Lloyd Thomas (Usman). Musicians Joelle Barker and Pete Yelding also join the production.
Director, Iqbal Khan, said:
“I am excited to be revisiting Tartuffe and bringing it home to the city in which it is set following its successful run in the Swan Theatre at the RSC. I’m a Brummie and born into a Pakistani-Islamic family so the production has always felt like a very personal journey to undertake. I can’t wait to see it on stage at Birmingham Repertory Theatre.”
Tartuffe is designed by Bretta Gerecke with lighting design by Richard Howell. Music for the production it composed by Sarah Sayeed with sound by Jeremy Dunn and movement by Shelley Maxwell.
Tartuffe is at Birmingham Repertory Theatre from 20 March – 4 April)
Tickets start at £15 (£10 on previews and matinees) and are available from / 0121 236 4455.

UB40 sax man and artist Brian Travers in conversation with Robin Valk

Back with a bang: Brian Travers!

During a period of enforced convalescence, UB40 sax man Brian Travers has had to step back from touring. Instead, he has dived headfirst into fresh activities. Brian Travers Arts now delivers painting, sculpture and glasswork. At an early show, his custom glass dildo was a standout (just wish I hadn't been holding it when Brian snapped me). This podcast episode is a conversation full of positivity and potential. Listen here.
This kicks off series 2 of the Lives in Music podcast. The aim is to honour and showcase people who have spent their lives in music: the makers and the enablers. New episodes will drop weekly for the next ten weeks - and if you like what you hear, share and pass it on! 

And if you haven't downloaded or streamed them already, here's the complete Series 1 of Lives in Music:

Ruby Turner
Steve Ajao
The Men Who Make Melllotrons
Mike Hatton 
Horace Panter (The Specials)
Jasper Carrott
Sam Slater
John Patrick
Gordon Giltrap
Jim Simpson

And on Spotify, iTunes and all good podcast directories

Training for Carers in Birmingham

Combine caring with paid work

Access online or flexible distance Learning courses with tutors to help you get back into paid work.

There are courses on:

Childcare & Education

Health & Social Care

Business, Leadership & Management

Retail & Hospitality


Personal Development & Employability

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

IKON : John Newling: Dear Nature

John Newling, A language from the garden (Nyman’s language) (2017), Courtesy the artist.
John Newling: Dear Nature

4 March - 31 May 2020

Birmingham-born artist John Newling (b. 1952) is a pioneer of public art with a social purpose. This major exhibition exemplifies his strong environmental proposition, whilst pushing at the boundaries of what defines art.

At the heart of Ikon’s exhibition is Dear Nature, a book published in 2018, comprising letters Newling wrote to nature every day for 81 days. The letters explore our relationship with the natural world – “part truth and reconciliation, part advocacy of an urgent need, part thoughts for future social ecologies”. In one letter he quotes from the first chapter of Genesis, after Adam and Eve are introduced: “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’” He then reflects on the implications:
This is my guilt and worry. We have filled the earth. We have subdued it. We do rule over it.
What is the cost to ourselves of subduing all that we seem to encounter?
Yours is a vast history, ours is a blink in that history. Perhaps that’s where the hope lies in our geological youth; we are young and still learning.

I am sorry
Yours, John

Alongside the letters are photographs of a growing flax seedling, cultivated in Newling’s studio. In Dear Nature we witness a miracle of life while reading about our downwards spiral into the “strangest nihilism without purpose and feeling”.

Such a philosophical twist is characteristic of Newling, an artist who belongs to a generation that grew up with Conceptual Art, Land Art and Arte Povera in the 1960s, emphasising the importance of concept and context. During his time in America (1985), as the first recipient of a Fulbright fellowship in visual arts, he produced works of art in hotels, swimming pools, burnt out cars and on the streets of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC and New York.

This experience marked the beginning of an interest in the meaning of ‘place’, informing his work now more strongly than ever - his place being a domestic back garden as much as it is the whole world. Recently Newling has produced Soil Books (2019), made with soil from his garden to embody the idea of the Anthropocene, our current geological age in which human impact is evident. He is determined to grasp “what is it to know that we have affected the effects of nature/our environment... you can trace our evolution to a point where we subdued nature, but to our own cost, because we will make ourselves extinct”.

The Soil Books are sculptures, derived from Newling’s everyday experience of walking from his house into his back garden, picking up leaves on the way: “It’s like a ritual, so that every leaf in those books – the language of the books – is from my garden.” The result is book-like stacks of panels of processed soil with the leaves, pressed and gilded, on the surfaces which are then stained with watercolour. The order of the books is crucial, indicating seasonal change, and once again conveying the artist’s preoccupation with physical transformation.

A further work, Waste Land Soil (2018), involves the artist shredding several hundred copies of T.S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land, combined with coffee grounds and other kitchen scraps to make a soil that can sustain vegetative growth - thus the opposite of waste. In a reverse process, Newling used the soil to make paper for his Eliot’s Note Books (2017), 434 paper sheets reflecting the 434 lines in Eliot’s poem that, if placed in the earth, would grow and sustain life.

Newling’s plea for a closer connection with, and greater understanding of, the natural world is evident in his 2016 development of a new alphabet based on leaves he found at Nymans, a National Trust garden in West Sussex. Pressed and photographed, he matched these plant forms to letters in the modern English alphabet. At Ikon, Nymans Language (2017) occurs in a grid of marble slabs on the floor and also exists as an officially registered downloadable font.

Newling’s exhibition extends beyond the gallery space, with readings of Dear Nature resounding throughout Ikon’s staircase and further works sited nearby in the cherry trees in Oozells Square, Brindleyplace.
The exhibition is supported by the Ikon Investment Fund.

Ikon’s programme of events includes a live reading of Dear Nature by John Newling as part of the Launch Night on Wednesday 4 March; a digital broadcast with journalist Alys Fowler; and an outdoor performance by Birmingham Contemporary Music Group of John Cage’s work Ryoanji (1984), composed for flute with electronic sound projections and percussion.

John Newling, Eliot's Note Books (2017), Courtesy the artist


NICE Guidance on Supporting Adult Carers published today

Hot off the press...
The NICE guidance on Supporting Adult Carers for your information.
For more information please visit the web link

This guideline covers support for adults (aged 18 and over) who provide unpaid care for anyone aged 16 or over with health or social care needs. It aims to improve the lives of carers by helping health and social care practitioners identify people who are caring for someone and give them the right information and support. It covers carers’ assessments, practical, emotional and social support and training, and support for carers providing end of life care.

This guideline covers general principles that apply to all adult carers. Recommendations about supporting carers of people with specific health needs can be found in NICE guidance on those conditions.

This guideline should be read together with the Care and support statutory guidance under the Care Act 2014 and the Children and Families Act 2014.

Book early for Festivals in the West Midlands in 2020

HRH Metal

Sat 15th Feb 2020 -

RockFest 2020 with Wolfjaw & Piston            

KKs Steel Mill, Wolverhampton.

Birmingham Mela         
at Victoria Park, Smethwick
Sat 18th Jul 2020 -

Celebrating our 10th Birthday, join us at the UK’s biggest Mela with a weekend filled with south Asian music from local to international talent, music, dance, cultural art, and traditional food at the annual Sandwell & Birmingham Mela festival at Victoria Park, Smethwick.

MADE Festval

Sat 1st Aug 2020, 11:00am      

at Perry Park, Birmingham

Based in the UK's second city Birmingham, MADE Festival is an urban and dance music festival showcasing the latest in house, grime, drum and base, garage and more. Established in 2014, MADE Festival highlights the best in the arts that the city has to offer along with other established acts. Previous line-ups include Andy C, Annie Mac and Solardo.

Bilston Blues, Rhythm & Rock Festival 2020        

at Robin 2, Wolverhampton

Sun 30th Aug 2020, 2:00pm

Moseley Folk Festival

Fri 4th Sep 2020 -


Dump Trump - Not The Earth

“You say children shouldn’t worry... don’t be so pessimistic and then, nothing, silence”
Greta Thunberg

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Come and join Dancers’ Circle at MAC

Joseph Toonga: Born To Manifest

You are invited to the very first edition of ‘Dancers’ Circle’ on Friday 31 January at 6:30pm at Midlands Arts Centre - MAC. 

A friendly social time for dance lovers around free tea and biscuits before the show! 

Dancers’ Circle is a friendly social and networking initiative hosted by Midlands Arts Centre and MAC Dance Associate Artist Johnny Autin (Autin Dance Theatre/ Man Made Youth Company).

Its simple mission is to bring people together!

Dancers' Circle is free and open to everyone. It invites you to meet up prior to dance theatre performances at MAC, to enjoy free tea and biscuits at the bar and socialise with like-minded people from across the dance sector and beyond.
The first edition will take place on Friday 31 January 2020 at 6.30pm, prior to the performance of Joseph Toonga’s Born to Manifest in MAC’s main Theatre. 

If you’d like to come along to Dancers’ Circle, please RSVP to 

Born To Manifest

You say I’m a black guy. I know who I am, do you know who I am?’

Born to Manifest is a powerful new hip hop dance double bill that illuminates the experience of young black British men. Joseph Toonga draws from real life accounts to a create a poignant, responsive piece that simultaneously champions cultural identity and challenges racial stigmas.

Set to an original score from Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante, this dynamic new dance work explores the themes of mental health and the power and privilege that still oppress and dictate. Joseph delivers stark home truths through the complexity and beauty of an individual’s journey.

Tickets from £10.00

Events at Hereford Cathedral


Monday 27 January – Saturday 27 June

Saints in the Making Exhibition

The saints played an important part in the lives of all medieval people, who knew and loved popular stories about them and regarded them as vital intercessors forming a bridge between Earth and Heaven. This exhibition explores the significance of the saints, and in particular those special to Hereford, through books, documents and objects from the cathedral’s historic collections. The exhibition is in the Mappa Mundi & Chained Library exhibition space from 27 January to 27 June 2020, normal admission charges apply.
Saturday 1 February, 7 pm

Christmas Oratorio

On Saturday 1 February, Hereford Cathedral Choir, together with Marches Baroque and a renowned line-up of soloists, will be performing J S Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in its entirety (sung in German). Tickets £25 and £18 are available from the Cathedral Shop (01432 374 210) and at St John’s Door on the night. Supported by the William A Cadbury Charitable Trust.
Saturday 8 February – Thursday 5 March

Herefordshire Life Through a Lens: Religious Life

Hereford Cathedral will be taking part in the multi-venue exhibition of photographs from the Derek Evans Studio archive by exhibiting a series of images featuring religious life in the North Aisle. For more details visit