Friday, 30 July 2021

Bus Boycott Block Party


Free day of arts activities at Bus Boycott Block Party

  • North Birmingham’s heritage of migration and activism through the ages celebrated in a day of food, music and art
  • Partly inspired by the 1963 Bristol Bus Boycott campaigners, the event will feature an exclusive preview of songs from a new musical based on this landmark civil rights moment
  • The event is the launch of a 2022 programme of work exploring the art of protest and intergenerational stories within Caribbean and South Asian communities

Saturday 28th August 2021, 11.30am – 5pm at Soho House, Birmingham

T: @YourOldChina | Insta: @china_plate_theatre | #BBBP21 |

Created with local artists and residents, independent theatre studio China Plate and Birmingham Hippodrome are hosting a block party to celebrate the heritage of migration and activism in North Birmingham. The family-friendly day of free art includes a curated walking tour of Soho Road, vintage bus provided by National Express West Midlands, a bus stop transformed into a mini-gallery, banner art, food, DJ and songs from new musical Bus Boycott (working title), in development throughout 2022. The programme is inspired by Birmingham’s reputation of intergenerational activism and the 1963 Bristol Bus Boycott campaigners. They galvanised the nation into creating the first piece of UK legislation which explicitly outlawed racial discrimination. Bus Boycott Block Party is the start of a programme of art exploring intergenerational stories in Caribbean and South Asian communities, and the event represents a chance to share histories, meet the artists, and influence what the programme will be.

The day will feature Black Heritage Walks Network, who are co-curating a new creative walking tour with residents in Handsworth featuring the people, places, stories and events that the local community wants to commemorate. Participatory and Visual Artist Jane Thakoordin will be having conversations and creating protest banners with local residents in Ladywood. Supported by Transport for West Midlands, Artist-Curator Nilupa Yasmin will unveil her plans to transform bus stops along the iconic 74 bus route into public art galleries along Soho Road. Both Jane and Nilupa will be running free craft workshops during the day. Local residents will also get a chance to admire a 1960’s vintage bus, hear songs from brand-new musical Bus Boycott (working title), and the day will be complete with throwback tunes from the live DJ, and food on offer from South Asian and Caribbean stalls.

Jane Thakoordin said, “I made Birmingham my home 20 years ago, have raised my two daughters here and feel like the city is now part of my DNA! I am never happier than working with people to use creativity to express shared experiences. To be able to have open and sensitive conversations with people, many of whom can relate to the discrimination and racism of the boycott, and from these, draw out beautiful, authentic dialogue makes me love my job! This project is especially resonant for me as my Dad, an immigrant from Guyana, was a London bus conductor in 1963, and he remembers this time with bittersweet memories. I really hope that I can do justice to the beautiful people I have spoken to over the first stages of Bus Boycott, and I look forward to discovering what we produce together.”

New musical Bus Boycott (working title) is based on the events of 1963, when Bristol became the epicentre for the civil rights struggle in Britain. In response to The Bristol Omnibus Company’s refusal to employ Black and Asian conductors, four young West Indian men organised a mass boycott of their buses. Backed by students and political figures such as Tony Benn and the high commissioner for Trinidad and Tobago, their stand brought about a sea-change in race relations in the UK – leading to the first ever legislation explicitly outlawing racial discrimination. Based on these events, Bus Boycott brings together an outstanding creative team: one of the UKs leading dramatists, Roy Williams (Death of England) on book, Tim Sutton (Olivier Award-nominated musical director of Memphis the Musical) on music and lyrics, and director Christopher Haydon (Twelve Angry Men, Grounded). A first taste of the show will be seen in 2022 ahead of a premiere and planned tour in 2023/4, produced by China Plate and Birmingham Hippodrome.

Writer Roy Williams said, “History is littered with forgotten stories, especially black stories which always enrages me. The more important they are the angrier I become. The Bristol Bus Boycott is such an important event in British history. The protestors’ actions brought widespread attention to the problem of racism in Britain at the time. Their success brought a profound and positive sense of hope for the possibility of progress.” 

Bus Boycott Block Party has been programmed and commissioned by Aksana Khan and Diandra McCalla, Associate Producers at China Plate. China Plate Co-Artistic Director Paul Warwick said, “Having Diandra and Aksana lead this work with communities in North Birmingham has been brilliant - despite the difficulties of the pandemic. We can’t wait to share some of that work in person with those communities on the 28th August, find out what they think and talk about what’s next.”

Chris Sudworth, Birmingham Hippodrome’s Director of Artistic Programme, added, “The Block Party is such an exciting opportunity to take the next step in developing a new large-scale production not only made in Birmingham, but with Birmingham; and continues Birmingham Hippodrome & China Plate’s commitment to produce new work which better represents our society and prioritises voices that have often been excluded from our nation’s largest stages.”

Listings information

Soho House

Soho Avenue, (off Soho Road), Birmingham B18 5BL

To for more information and to book a free ticket visit:


Saturday 28th August 11.30am – 5pm


Full events schedule to be confirmed

Bus Boycott Block Party is created by China Plate in association with Birmingham Hippodrome, supported by Garfield Weston Foundation, National Express West Midlands, Birmingham Museums Trust, Soho BID, Transport for West Midlands, Arts Council England and Birmingham City Council 

Bus Boycott (working title) is produced by China Plate and Birmingham Hippodrome. It is supported by Blueprint: Without Walls R&D Investment Fund and supported using public funding by the National Lottery by Arts Council England 

Tuesday, 27 July 2021






In partnership with acclaimed theatre company Paines Plough and Belgrade Theatre, we present Roundabout – a festival of four world-class plays performed in a magical pop-up theatre located in the Wood End area of Coventry: May Queen, Really Big and Really Loud, Black Love and Hungry.

The unique venue will be located in the grounds of Moat House Leisure and Neighbourhood Centre with parking and catering facilities onsite.

Roundabout will run from Tue 27 Jul - Sun 8 Aug with tickets costing just £10 per show, or even cheaper if booked online.

Tickets to all Roundabout events are limited - early booking is essential!

Birmingham's Community Development Practice Hub

Things are progressing well with the setting up of a Community Development Practice Hub in Birmingham. 

The project is tasked with creating a resource to address disparate and disjointed approaches to community development in Birmingham to enable more confident, connected and capable local community development practitioners, leading to better outcomes for communities.

Firstly, we have drawn together a steering group of community development practitioners to form an advisory panel who offer a wealth of experience and practical support through task and finish groups for specific project elements such as the website, supervision guidance and setting up a community of practice. We are currently developing the following elements:

Knowledge Bank
This will be an open-access resource to share best practices from Birmingham and beyond, including free practical tools such as supervising practice guidance for frontline delivery. It will launch in September. We are currently creating content for the bank and gathering together resource materials.

A series of courses and workshops aimed at community development practitioners will be delivered from September onwards, including Active Listening, Appreciative Inquiry, Communication Skills and Workplace Reflective Practice. These are off-the-shelf courses adapted to the audience and online delivery. We have also commissioned a bespoke two-day training course on Asset-Based Community Development.

Community of Practice
For Birmingham-based workers, this will provide opportunities for learning, networking and professional development. We are currently developing a programme of talks, workshops, and guided peer problem-solving groups. This activity will launch in September 2021.

We had planned to hold some networking activity in person, but we will most likely hold all activity online due to the ongoing pandemic.

Once launched, we'll share a brand new website where you can find out how to get involved!

If you have any questions or would like to find out more about this work, please get in touch with David Coffin at 

Better World Festival 2021 - Stoke-on-Trent


  • Date: 6th August 2021
  • Location: Hanley City Centre
  • Time: 10:00 - 23:00
  • Cost: Free

Stoke-on-Trent City Centre BID is excited to host a new festival celebrating our wonderful world which seeks to address questions about how we can make sustainable choices for a better world tomorrow.

Better World Festival will bring together speakers, activists, pioneers, charities, community groups and everyone with an interest in creating positive change in this weekend event which will see an extensive line-up spanning world music, workshops, group exercise classes, panel discussions, meditation sessions, family activities and so much more, designed to inspire new ways of thinking. With three music stages, a Kidzone, two areas hosting an exciting programme of activities focusing on the environment, unity, and wellbeing, a chill-out retreat, a bar area and an Artisan Market, you're bound to take something away from this special festival and be inspired, plus, we’ll be launching a number of exciting, sustainable initiatives over the weekend.

Family Film fun this summer at Light House, Wolverhampton


Family Film fun this summer at Light House


When Wolverhampton’s Light House Cinema reopened in June following a 15 month closure, the staff couldn’t wait to see their regular customers return, as well as seize the chance to welcome new visitors. The school holidays sees a host of family films join Light House’s signature mix of independent and big name films, perfect for a younger audience.

This week sees James Corden return to the screen as the eponymous hero in Peter Rabbit 2 until 5th August, alongside Emma Stone as Disney’s most stylish villain in Cruella showing until 29th July. Don’t worry, there’s also Supernova starring Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth, and After Love starting Joanna Scanlon for the grown-ups. For musicals fans there will be a run of Lin Manuel Miranda’s hit In the Heights from 30th July, and Light House brings one of the most anticipated films of the year so far, the Oscar-winning Another Round also from Friday 30th July. Starring the amazing Mads Mikkelsen, the story explores experimenting with the concept of maintaining a certain level of alcohol in the system throughout the workday. A good or bad idea? Come and watch it at Light House and find out.

Light House CEO Kelly Jeffs says, 

‘We really enjoy welcoming the next generation of cinema lovers to Light House and we’re starting the holidays with a bang screening Cruella and Peter Rabbit 2. There’ll be more to look forward to in August with The Croods 2, Raya and the Last Dragon and the latest feature length Paw Patrol. The backlog of releases that built up over lockdown means that the rest of the year is going to be stellar. As we continue to await the release latest James Bond - No Time To Die - later in the autumn, there will be plenty of fanatastic films on offer in the meantime including The Suicide Squad, Summer of Soul, Limbo and the Last Letter from Your Lover further on in the summer.’

Tickets for children, students and under 25s are just £5 and can be booked on Light House’s new phone number - 01902 925225, and full listings and online booking are available at

Time To Take Our City Back! Creative Visual Arts Workshops


Safe and Sound - Free creative space for all Syrian families - this August in Erdington


Free Creative Summer Workshops for Children in South and West Birmingham


Sunday, 25 July 2021

Award for audience favourite at Birmingham Indian Film Festival

To mark the end of this year's Birmingham Indian Film Festival, the award winner for the audience voted favourite film went to Ajitesh Sharma's WOMB, Woman Of My Billion, the opening night documentary charting the incredible story of Srishti Bakshi who walked the length of India to honour women.

In the documentary, Bakshi makes the journey of 4,000km from Kanyakumari to Kashmir over 240 days while meeting and learning about women whose social and economical difficulties multiplied during the pandemic.

"Violence against women and girls is a human-rights violation,” she said. According to emerging data and reports, since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the preventive lockdown measures, violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has intensified within the four walls of their houses.

"The documentary celebrates ordinary women who have shown extraordinary courage to rise above their limitations and challenge deeply entrenched gender norms," Bakshi continued. “We did this to unite the majority because what we discovered was that gender-based violence is a crime perpetrated by the minority but perpetuated by the silence of the majority.”

TEN VILLANS | Who Came Home

One for Aston Villa supporters, read Joey Millington's latest blog on the UTV Podcast website.

In his article Joey celebrates the return of fan favourite Ashley Young to Villa Park by looking at 10 former players that have been and gone in various different ways.

Digbeth: A Hundred Thousand Welcomes - iSE new CEO takes a tour of Birmingham's Social Enterprise Quarter

Last week iSE's new CEO Cathy Brown and new Digital Apprentice Shian Cornwall enjoyed a tour of the Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter.

With major changes to the fabric of Digbeth underway, it was an opportunity to hear from some of the organisations that continue to call Digbeth home, with conversations around the past, present and future of this industrious heartland. 

Over the next month iSE will be doing what we do best, supporting and growing the social economy by getting people together – look out for our first DSEQ breakfast event soon.

For the highlights of Cathy's first month and Digbeth tour check out Cathy's blog post

Worcester’s wildflowers give boost to biodiversity

L-R - Cllr Andy Stafford, Paul Snookes from Worcester Environmental
Group and Cllr Andy Roberts

Worcester City Council is taking action to encourage wildflowers to flourish in areas across the city - in a bid to boost the numbers of bees, butterflies, and other insects, that play an important role in our ecosystem.

“The UK has lost 97% of its wildflower meadows since the Second World War – which is incredibly worrying because they provide essential nutrients for 270 species of native bee,” explains Paul Snookes from the Worcester Environmental Group.

“We are pleased the Council is taking this action and look forward to the programme expanding to more sites in the future.”

The authority has worked in partnership with the Worcester Environmental Group, reducing the frequency of grass verge cutting at some locations and introducing new techniques to encourage more flowers to grow.  Strips of grass will continue to be cut around the borders of wildflower areas.

The result is an abundance of wildflowers at sites such as Dugdale Drive in Warndon Villages (WR4 0AZ), where an information board and QR coded posts have been installed allowing people to find out more about the species they spot.  These include Bush Vetch; Red Clover; Wild Carrot and Herb Robert.

“Worcester City Council declared a Biodiversity Emergency in 2020, because we recognise that action needs to be taken immediately to stop the decline of our native species,” explains Cllr Andy Stafford, Chair of Worcester City Council’s Environment Committee.

“The success of Dugdale Drive shows us that with a change in mowing practices we can turn barren grass verges into vibrant natural habitats for our native wildflowers and insects.  They not only look beautiful, but they also support bees and other insects which pollinate plants and provide food to our native birds.”

Warndon Parish South councillor Andy Roberts added:  “The reaction from residents has been overwhelmingly positive.  Encouraging more wildflowers to grow is a small but important step to help protect the natural environment.  I’m delighted to see the wildflower information board installed at Dugdale Drive; it’s really important that residents understand why we’re taking this action.”

The authority also planted wildflowers at a number of new sites this year – including Hylton Road; Bromwich Parade; City Walls Road and the Bromwich Road.

A different mix of wildflowers has been planted at each site to create a variety of species and colours.  Soil type, soil fertility, shading, exposure to the sun, driver visibility and accessibility are all issues which are taken in to account when new locations are selected.

Further actions to boost biodiversity are set out in Worcester City Council’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy 2020 - 30.

IWA Festival of Water brings Family Fun & 100 Boats to Perdiswell Park

Head to Perdiswell Park in Worcester this August Bank Holiday weekend (28
th – 30th August) for a weekend of festivities for the whole family. Over 100 visiting boats dressed with festival bunting will be moored along the banks of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal.

A full programme of live music and dance will take place at the event hosted by the Inland

Waterways Association (IWA) and supported by Worcester City Council

.Local legends, the Woo Town Hillbillies will play original songs and lively covers, featuring part harmoniesguitars, banjo, ukulele and double bass.

There will be craft stalls, food outlets, a real ale bar, an entertainments marquee with live music plus lots of other attractions too.

Activities include children’s rides, swing boats, a chance to have a go at driving a digger with IWA’s Waterway Reco very Group, fishing sessions,as well as demonstrations of a coracle and an electric punt. Little Radford Model Boat Club are bringing a huge display of many, beautifully detailed model boats, which will form this year’s illuminated display of boats.

The Find it Do it Worcester Arena will showcase local youth and sports activities. Visitors can also find out more about life on the Canal that runs through the City in series of presentations from living afloat and greener boating to performances by Alarum Theatre Productions.

Originally planned for 2020 to coincide with the anniversary of the very first meeting of IWA co-founders at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, this will be a highlight of IWA’s 75th anniversary celebrations.

“The city is proud to host the 202Festival of Water. The Worcester & Birmingham Canal is a fantastic asset, providing a haven for wildlife and an attractive route for walking, cycling and boating,” said Cllr James Stanley, Chair of Worcester City Council’s Communities Committee.

“This promises to be a fantastic family event for the whole community to enjoy we look forward to welcoming boaters from across the UK to Worcester.

Commenting on the event, Jane Elwell, Chair of Events Committee at IWA said, “The Worcester & Birmingham Canal played an important role in the history of IWA and we think it is a very fitting place to celebrate the start of our 75th anniversary year. Our Festival of Water at Perdiswell Park will not only look back at the past 75 years but also towards the future of the waterways. ”

Entry to the festival and car parking are free. Book a mooring or campsite pitch for just £35 for the whole weekend, including evening entertainment. More information, including how to book your mooring or pitch, is available online at 

If you have a specific question, or would like to volunteer over the weekend, please call 01635 414567 or email:

Now’s the time to show off your creations at the Worcester Show

It’s time to unleash all your lockdown creativity and get ready to show off your gardening, crafting, painting, photographic and cookery talent at the ever-popular Worcester Show (Pitchcroft Race Course - Sunday 15 August 2021).

There are over 140 competition classes for people of all ages to enter.   In addition to gardening categories for fruit and vegetable produce, there are a large number of handicraft, cookery and art classes.

There are plenty of new and exciting photography classes to enter this year – including capturing your pet on camera; taking an award-winning shot of Worcester’s waterways or a historic image of the city.

There’s also a new art section for under 18s and a cartoon drawing category, with the chance to win a trophy.

Local retailer Flowers of Worcester ( is offering a 50% discount on materials purchased for entries for Floral Art categories at the Show.  There’s a new challenge to create a floral head dress – or to enter a floral creation which reflects your experiences in 2020 – 2021.

Whatever your age or interest, there really is something for everyone to have a go at – and remember, the competition is free to enter!

“We are delighted to bring back the Worcester Show this summer - this popular community event will give some much-needed fun and entertainment for the whole family,” says Cllr James Stanley, Chair of the Worcester City Council’s Communities Committee.

“It’s a great opportunity for people of all ages to show off their creative and gardening talent. You don’t have to be an expert to enter, enthusiasm is the only quality you need!”

The deadline to enter photography classes and submit photos is 5.00pm on Wednesday 4 August 2021.

All other entry forms must be submitted no later than 10:00am on Monday 9 August 2021.

For more information and to enter, go to

Hard copy entry forms are also available at the Tourist Information Centre; Customer Services Centre at 89 High Street Worcester, or the Pump House Café in Gheluvelt Park.

A book of local memories is raising money for Age Concern Birmingham

A book of local memories has been published by Age Concern Birmingham (ACB) to celebrate the lives of older people in the West Midlands, whilst also raising money for the organisation’s much needed services.

During the past 18 months, the Birmingham-rooted charity kept its key services going, supporting thousands of older people and carers throughout the Covid pandemic and lengthy lockdown.  

ACB’s Chief Executive, Becky Bews said “our organisation exists to support older adults and others in need to promote health and wellbeing and during the COVID-19 pandemic, our aim, more than ever, has been to support those most vulnerable and at risk. Back in mid-March 2020, as the pandemic took hold we, overnight, established a helpline and reviewed our service provision adapting services to support existing and new clients during such a stressful and anxious period.

We worked with other organisations to provide increased service and support remaining agile, flexible and responsive, responding to need in the best way possible. Whilst vaccine development and roll out has been exceptional and increases protection, we are not quite out of the woods yet, so we are continuing to work tirelessly to support our communities even as light starts to appear at the end of this long tunnel.”

Whilst key services were being delivered during 2020 and 2021, Age Concern Birmingham continued to deliver a memory-based heritage project which was funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. In the face of the pandemic, the organisation continued to collect stories, poems, photographs and memories from older people in the West Midlands. The project has now culminated in the publication of a 21-chapter book featuring the memories of over 50 people.

The book is called I Remember When and the foreword was written by Lady Anne Knowles, a former Chair of the charity (pictured above holding the book). Lady Anne Knowles, the widow of the late former leader of Birmingham City Council, Sir Richard Knowles, has also contributed some of her own memories and in her foreword she highlights the book's narrative of resilience:

Lady Anne said:

"As we read through this rich diversity of recollections, one of the common threads is the theme of resilience. It is easy to forget that the older generation have been on their own life-journeys of aspiration and achievement in spite of very different, though nonetheless great, challenges."

Peter Millington, the editor of I Remember When, describes this fascinating anthology of stories and memories as 'an antidote for Covid'. He said:

"One irony of the project has been hearing the memories of the generation who collectively lived through historic conditions which not only compared with the present situation, but were arguably far worse. The stories in this book are often of struggle, hardship, poverty and the terrors of war. But the common themes of humour, pride, determination and a strong sense of family and community shine through."

The book spans a range of years from 1918 to the present, with personal and socially historic insights into every decade. From a Marathon running bus driver to the Lady Mayoress of Birmingham, the book is packed with the precious memories of yesteryear.

I Remember When will be launched at an event at ACB’s Communitea Café at 76-78 Boldmere Road on 30th July 2021 at 11am. The launch event will feature short talks about the project, a down-the-decades quiz and an opportunity for audience members to talk about their own memories of life in the West Midlands.   

The book has gone on sale at £6.00 in the Age Concern Birmingham charity shop at 76-78 Boldmere Road, Sutton Coldfield, from our organisation’s day centres and from our community café at Hawkesley Community Centre, Edgewood Road, Kings Norton. Proceeds of sale will support the work of Age Concern Birmingham.

Visit our website at 

Age Concern Birmingham is a registered charity number 518610.


Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Allotment Open Day - Age Concern and Sutton Coldfield NNS




From Tuesday 22 June
London Road Cemetary, Charterhouse Heritage Park, Coventry
Tickets from £12

Seven immersive artworks challenge our ideas of life, death and nature.

Observations on Being opens next week and is an epic, site-specific world-premiere experience by renowned artists Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF). Cross the threshold and follow an expansive journey through the invisible natural world with a series of thought-provoking and immersive audio visual art installations and soundscapes in an event the likes of which has never been seen in Coventry before.

Ahead of opening we hear from our Director of Audience Strategy, Laura McMillan.

'MLF have created fantastical light displays for Miley Cyrus concerts and I'm thrilled that they are now bringing a series of beautiful installations into the tree-filled spaces and historic buildings of London Road Cemetery right here in Coventry. This is going to be a truly beautiful and atmospheric event, definitely one not to miss.'

Book now and be amongst the very first people in the world to experience this extraordinary event.

Find out more and book tickets

'If we could see differently

We might see that everything flows into everything else

That we are made of rivers

Streams of life, surging across time'

By Marshmallow Laser Feast

Observations on Being was commissioned by Coventry City of Culture Trust and produced in partnership with York Mediale, working closely with the Friends of London Road Cemetery. It is presented in partnership with Historic Coventry Trust, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and Coventry City Council.

The production is funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and supported by the Garfield Weston Foundation. Part of the #GreenFutures programme.


The award-winning Birmingham-based Sonia Sabri Company is delighted to announce the 2021 tour of their acclaimed SAME SAME .. BUT DIFFERENT, a show especially for young children and their families.  The tour will visit 26 libraries and spaces across England from 27 July-26 August including Birmingham and the Black Country.

SAME SAME .. BUT DIFFERENT, originally commissioned by Birmingham Hippodrome and The Place with support from Birmingham Royal Ballet, is the company’s first ever children’s production which received its world premiere at the Hippodrome in 2019.  The show mixes Kathak and contemporary dance with live music, beat boxing and physical storytelling to create a playful, colourful world, exploring curiosities and fears, the times we feel different and when we belong.

SAME SAME .. BUT DIFFERENT is inspired by the well-known Anglo-Asian phrase ‘same, same...but different’, meaning "Yes, something kind of similar, but not the exact same thing”.

SAME SAME .. BUT DIFFERENT has been made working in collaboration with a number of primary schools in Birmingham and London.  The children’s creative ideas and lived experiences of being different and belonging have been brought into the show.
In a world and time where there is 'fear of the different' the show celebrates diversity and inclusivity in its broadest sense.  A joyous and colourful live experience for children 5+ and their families.

The show will tour mostly to libraries across England and other spaces, reaching out to local communities that would not necessarily have access to live theatre.

“My girls laughed hysterically at the performers. Their laughter making the people around us laugh too.” Small House Big Trips

The show is choreographed by multi award-winning Sonia Sabri one of the world’s leading Kathak dancers and Artistic Director of Sonia Sabri Company. Sonia has an international reputation for collaboration across dance styles and art forms.  Sonia has worked as choreographer and movement director with Sir Trevor Nunn CBE, Dame Arlene Phillips (DBE), Marion Tait CBE, Jonzi D, Sir Richard Alston CBE, Shobana Jeyasingh CBE, Nitin Sawhney CBE and Rose English.

Wolverhampton born Sonia said: “The last 14 months have been such an incredibly difficult time for children, so it seems extremely poignant to be bringing this high-class performance to the doorsteps of communities in England at this time. This is something a professional national touring company rarely does especially in library settings.  We therefore very much look forward to providing families with a fun, playful and happy theatre experience after so long. 

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Arts Council England for their support in helping us to reach so many communities.” 
Britain's first public lending library opened in Manchester in the mid 1800’s and gradually spread to other towns and cities providing communities with free access to books and learning.

Carol Stump, President, Libraries Connected a membership organisation, representing heads of library services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. commented “Libraries have delivered an amazing range of cultural activities online during the pandemic to their communities, including theatre, dance and author events. However, now more than ever, we need to encourage people back into library buildings to connect with each other and to enjoy live arts again so Libraries Connected are delighted to support the live theatre tour of SAME 

The cast features dance artist Katie Albon based in Birmingham. Katie trained at Trinity Laban and, has since danced with Autin Dance Theatre, Springs Dance Company, Ascension Dance and FRONTLINEdance; Michael Kelland who graduated from London Contemporary Dance School in 2012.  As a freelance performer he has worked with James Wilton, Tom Dale and Rosie Kay and Aakanksha Rawat from India who has been working with Sonia Sabri Company for five years and is a part of Sonia Sabri Company's teaching faculty.  She also leads dance workshops in community settings, for children and adults and performs regularly with Kathkaaars (storytellers).

SAME SAME .. BUT DIFFERENT will tour across England visiting 26 libraries and spaces from Tuesday 27 July – Thursday 26 August including Stoke, Nottingham, Luton, Birmingham, Black Country, Cheshire, Middlesborough and Reading.   

Full tour details are listed on the website with links to each library/space.  Please contact the library or space direct to register/book in each instance:

Age guidance: children aged 5+ and their adults

SAME SAME .. BUT DIFFERENT will tour whilst following the most up-to-date Government Covid-19 guidelines.

Monday, 5 July 2021

Lady Anne Knowles writes foreword for a book of memories from Age Concern Birmingham

Lady Anne Knowles, the widow of the late former leader of Birmingham City Council, Sir Richard Knowles, and a former chair person of Age Concern Birmingham has not only contributed her own memories to this new book of local recollections, but has also written a foreword for the publication highlighting the book's narrative of resilience.

Peter Millington, the editor of I Remember When, an anthology of the stories and memories of older people from the West Midlands, describes the book as 'an antidote for Covid':

"Our organisation, Age Concern Birmingham, continued to deliver support to older people in our area throughout the pandemic and with the support of The National Lottery Heritage Fund we also continued to run the memory-based heritage project we had only just launched, collecting stories and memories from the older generation for this book of nostalgia.

"One irony of the project has been hearing memories of the generation who collectively lived through historic conditions which not only compared with the present situation, but were arguably far worse. The stories in this book are often of struggle, hardship, poverty and the terrors of war. But the common themes of humour, pride, determination and a strong sense of family and community shine through."

The book features memories of over 50 older people from around the West Midlands and span a range of years from 1918 to the present, with personal and socially historic insights into every decade. From a Marathon running bus driver to the Lady Mayoress of Birmingham, the book is packed with the precious memories of yesteryear.

Lady Anne Knowles said:

"As we read through this rich diversity of recollections, one of the common threads is the theme of resilience. It is easy to forget that the older generation have been on their own life-journeys of aspiration and achievement in spite of very different, though nonetheless great, challenges."

I Remember When was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, edited by Peter Millington for Age Concern Birmingham and is published by Brewin Books.

The book has gone on sale at £9.95 in the Age Concern Birmingham charity shop at 76-78 Boldmere Road, Sutton Coldfield and details will follow soon about how to order a copy by post. Proceeds of sale will go to the work of ACB.

More details from 





A brand-new free mobile App is aiming to help dancers from across the globe become mentally fit and emotionally strong by building resilience from the stresses and strains of dance training and performance.


HELP4DANCERS, which can be downloaded now from both the Apple and Google play stores, provides dancers with access to a professional programme of daily sessions including: weekly check in health questionnaires and advice from dance-related psychotherapists and counsellors on many aspects of mental health; exercise and meditation videos; injury prevention and maintenance with leading physiotherapists.

 “I would recommend it to any dance professional as a valuable tool for regaining any emotional and physical strength which may have been lost during the pandemic”  

Rosalyn Walsh, Professional Dancer

Other features are strength and conditioning sessions and Pilates with professional coaches, advice on career development and nutrition and regular guest speakers including UK and international dance professionals.

HELP4DANCERS has been created by psychotherapist Terry Hyde MA MBACP founder of Counselling for Dancers.  Terry started ballet classes at the age of 6, was awarded a 5-year scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dance in London and attended The Royal Ballet Senior School. He later joined The Royal Ballet followed by a move to London’s Festival Ballet (English National Ballet) as a soloist. After 5 years, he moved to musical theatre, performing in London’s West End, Film and TV.   As a dancer he has performed on the Birmingham Hippodrome stage both with The Royal Ballet and London Festival Ballet (English National Ballet).  And more recently has presented three wellbeing workshops for Elmhurst Ballet School in Birmingham.

Terry Hyde said “During the pandemic dancers have been missing in-person training and performing and sadly, as a result, I have seen an increase in clients seeking my help. Because of my own experiences as a performer, I can bring a genuine understanding of the unique demands that are placed on dancers, from body image and bullying to audition anxiety.” 

Terry, who has been running free online wellbeing sessions for those in the performing arts throughout the pandemic, has been working on the App for the last 6 months on its design and comprehensive, professional content as well as trialling it out to a team of dancers.  He feels the App will help dancers to continue their career, keep mentally and physically fit and prepare them for live performances and in-person classes.

Terry continued: “On this free App, users will be able to join a six-week programme which tracks their progress and in turn helps them to recognise what they can do to help improve their emotional and physical strength.  And, as Birmingham and the West Midlands is one of the major Dance hubs outside of London the App can reach out to the many dancers and choreographers based there.”

HELP4DANCERS participants can join pre-recorded sessions with a host of professional dancers and practitioners including Director and Choreographer Brendon Hansford who has shared his skills with the likes of Sam Smith, Rod Stewart and David Guetta; Isabella Gasparini, Soloist with The Royal Ballet; Tomorr Kokona, Coach and Mentor and former international arts professional; Ballet Physio Luke Abnett who spent 6 years treating students at The Royal Ballet SchoolMikko Nissenen, Artistic Director of The Boston Ballet Company and School and Professional Irish Dancer and Pilates Teacher Joe Duffey (Riverdance/Lord of the Dance/Broadway).

If successful the team behind the App hopes to expand its offer with the introduction of seminars, workshops and conferences.

HELP4DANCERS, for professional and student dancers as well as parents and teachersis available for all dance styles including Ballet, Irish DanceTap, Hip Hop, Ballroom and South Asian Dance.

The HELP4DANCERS APP can be downloaded now from both the Apple and Google play stores.


At the IKON: Mit Jai Inn Dreamworld 15 September – 21 November 2021

Ikon presents the first major solo exhibition in Europe by artist Mit Jai Inn (b.1960, Chiang Mai). A leading figure of contemporary art in Thailand, Mit is known for his colourful artworks that merge painting and sculpture. Dreamworld features recent and new works made for Ikon which embody his vision of art “as a utopian dream within everyday life” and collective hopes for a brighter future. 

“When I paint, it’s not only with my eyes, but with all of my senses: touch, smell, movement. The whole entity.” Mit Jai Inn.

Mit’s art spans a variety of forms which he has developed over the past 35 years. Wall Works (1986 –) are unstretched rectangular canvases, painted on both sides with thick lines and bold patches of paint. The random slits of Patch Works (1999 –) break away from the clean lines and logic of minimalist painting, while the fluorescent colours and frayed edges of Dream Works (1999 –) express the excitement and anxiety felt by people around the world on the eve of the new millennium and since. Scrolls (1987 –) transform a traditional format of Eastern painting into rollable sculptures, and in Pools (2016 –), mounds of paint bathed in solvents evoke the climate of his outdoor studio in Chiang Mai, where high levels of humidity keep his paints sticky and viscous. 

A republican and activist, Mit’s works often convey his resistance to the Thai monarchy and military rule. Since 2020, popular protests in Thailand have called for political reform and for King Maha Vajiralongkorn to step down. Though punishable by imprisonment, thousands of people, including Mit, continue to campaign at their own risk, galvanised by the possibility of change. At times, colours in Mit’s works such as red, blue, yellow and silver reference Thai politics and his indigenous Yong heritage. Their defiance of traditional formats of painting also convey his rebellious spirit. 

For Mit, painting is both intensely physical and deeply meditative. Using his hands, fingers and, occasionally, a palette knife, he dabs, slaps and pulls colours across the canvas, blending them intuitively. The thick consistency of his paints is derived from a mixture of old oil paint, gypsum powder, colour pigments and acrylic paints, loosened with linseed oil. Reflective minerals increase the dazzling effect of their combined colours and give them their “magic” glow. 

An idea of circulating positive energy between humans and the natural world is at the heart of Mit’s art. He sees painting as a way of transferring fields of energy from the earth (the source of his materials) into his works and their surroundings. Sitespecificity is an important element of his practice: for instance, the suspended “flags” of People’s Wall (2019) at Jim Thompson Art Farm, Thailand, or the immense scale of Planes (Hover, Erupt, Erode) (2018), which reflected the cavernous buildings of Cockatoo Island, Sydney, Australia. 

Mit has often given his works away, for members of the public to keep, and for other artists to incorporate into their own projects. These gestures highlight Mit’s belief in his artworks as gifts, whose meaning lies in the hands of their owners, hosts and viewers. They have also resulted in his relative lack of recognition in the art world, outside of Thailand. A co-founder of initiatives The Land (1998 –) and Chiang Mai Social Installation (CMSI) (1992 – 98), Mit has frequently eschewed authorship of these projects, preferring to foster their collaborative spirit. For him, collective will is the essence of sincerely held beliefs in both art and Buddhism.

The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive monograph on Mit’s life and work, published by Ikon and ArtAsiaPacific Foundation. It will include full-colour documentation of the exhibition and key works, with texts by Melanie Pocock, Ikon Curator; art historian Simon Soon; critic and curator Brian Curtin; plus an interview with the artist by Gridthiya Gaweewong, Artistic Director, The Jim Thompson Art Center, Bangkok. 

Visiting Ikon: Entry is free. To book a ticket or for more information on current opening times and visiting guidelines please visit