4 Squares Weekender
An estimated audience of 95,000 attend 4 Squares Weekender
City centre filled with celebrations for Library of Birmingham
An estimated audience of 95,000 attended 4 Squares Weekender, the weekend of free live arts in celebration of the new Library of Birmingham and the re-opening of The REP.
Presented by Birmingham Arts Partnership - the informal partnership of the leading arts and cultural organisations in the city - 4 Squares Weekender saw a host of events take place across Birmingham’s city centre squares.
Residents of Birmingham, together with visitors to the city, mixed in Victoria, Chamberlain, Centenary and Oozells Squares to enjoy stunning events. Early indicators suggest that 66% - two thirds - of audiences made a special trip into the city for 4 Squares Weekender and to see the Library of Birmingham, with an estimated spend of £900,000 over the three days. Local businesses have reported a significant rise in takings over the weekend - up to 300% in some instances. Some 72 local volunteers helped to staff the event, welcoming and providing information for visitors.
Highlights included As The World Tipped, a late night spectacular show in Victoria Square involving a vast 12m screen and fearless aerial performance, presented by Birmingham Hippodrome and Wired Aerial; Nofit State Circus with their contemporary circus stunts; live music from Musical Youth and Tippa Irie on The Drum’s Simmer Down Stage; and Town Hall Symphony Hall’s transformation of Centenary Square into a Musical Picnic. The REP itself presented a Secret Drama involving police and fire crews in a staged fight on the roof of the refurbished theatre. Oozells Square became a ‘clayground’ as Ikon Gallery encouraged visitors to build a giant city from clay.
Christopher Barron, Chief Executive of Birmingham Royal Ballet, said:
In the week that Birmingham opened Britain’s most significant cultural building of the year, it was only fitting that the city’s arts organisations came together to welcome our newest icon. The new Library of Birmingham has been described as the People’s Palace, and we certainly witnessed thousands of people flock to the building and surrounding squares to enjoy an eclectic mix of the best outdoor arts from Birmingham and around the world. 4 Squares Weekender proved, as if it were needed, the appetite of Birmingham audiences for high quality, spectacular and accessible cultural experiences.
4 Squares Weekender was an innovative project that brought together all the Birmingham Arts Partnership members to programme, promote and deliver a series of events for the people of Birmingham and beyond. It would not have been possible without public investment, underlining the importance of the unique funding ecology that has seen culture play a leading role in the regeneration of the city. Our challenge is to continue to secure investment in culture from a range of sources and, through working together, ensure the launch of the new Library, the re-opening of The REP and 4 Squares Weekender are not the end of the story.
Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said:
4 Squares Weekender was an iconic opportunity for Birmingham to welcome visitors and locals alike, showing off the world class cultural offer in the City and heralding a new way of working which places the Library at the heart of this community. The two day spectacular, which was partly funded by the National Lottery through the Arts Council's Grants for the arts scheme, delivered an exciting and wide-ranging programme offering something to suit all tastes, from pop-up music and dance performances to the internationally acclaimed As The World Tipped by Wired Aerial Theatre which stunned audiences and, we hope, whetted their appetites for large scale outdoor arts events.
Cllr Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said
4 Squares Weekender has proved itself as a great way for Birmingham to celebrate its cultural vibrancy. I am delighted that all our major arts institutions have been involved in these festivities, which have surprised, entertained and engaged people of all ages.
Emma Gray, Director of Marketing Services for Visit Birmingham, said:
The international spotlight is shining on the city like never before with the launch of the Library of Birmingham attracting attention worldwide. 4 Squares Weekender welcomed the arrival of the city’s newest cultural space in spectacular fashion – aerial artists, orchestras and dance groups captured the public’s imagination over three stunning days, further boosting our global reputation as a centre for innovation and creativity.
Other 4 Squares performances took place from Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham Royal Ballet, sampad and DanceXchange. mac birmingham presented aerial sculptural work Pif Paf in Brindleyplace, whilst Flatpack Festival provided a day of film at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. Ex Cathedra and Birmingham Opera Company took to the new Library of Birmingham itself to perform.
4 Squares Weekender was presented by Birmingham Arts Partnership (BAP), the consortium of leading arts organisations and venues in the city. It is the first event conceived, programmed and promoted by BAP as part of its growing role in helping to lead Birmingham's cultural development.
4 Squares Weekender was produced by Birmingham Hippodrome on behalf of Birmingham Arts Partnership, with support from the National Lottery by Arts Council England’s Grants for the arts scheme, Birmingham City Council and the European Regional Development Fund through its Investing in the City Region project managed by Marketing Birmingham.
Images from 4 Squares Weekender alongside a blog outlining the weekend’s events can be found on www.4squaresweekender.com A short film will be available from Monday 9 September.
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