The Changing Face of Culture


Research published today by Visit Birmingham shows that half of young people class performance art (51%), fashion (46%) and street dance (44%) as cultural, with one in three believing graffiti art, pop-up shops and stand-up comedy also constitute culture. One fifth also include social media, and ‘creative industries’ such as web design (22%), and flashmobs (16%) in their definition.


The study of 2,000 people found that this changing definition has made culture more accessible to today’s youth than ever before, with 31% of 18-25 year olds participating in activities three or more times a month, in contrast to just 21% of over 55s.

This younger generation are also more willing than any other age group to part with their cash to experience culture, with one in two spending up to £30 per event. What’s more, 25% say they have donated money to help fund cultural activity in their community.

As a result of the findings, Visit Birmingham has likened today’s 18-25 year olds to the Beat Generation of the 1950s, labelling them a ‘New Beat Generation’ for the 21st century, challenging the status quo of the UK’s cultural offering by creating their own definitions and forms of culture.

It has produced a media briefing on the New Beat Generation, profiling this young generation’s impact on the European cities with some of the youngest populations: Birmingham, Copenhagen, Lille, Rotterdam and Stockholm.

The media briefing names Birmingham as ‘the home of new music’ and identifies some of its pioneers of the New Beat Generation, including indie band Peace, singer-song writer Laura Mvula, and musician Jacob Banks, who are redefining the city’s music scene.

Jacob comments:

It’s great to see young people breaking down cultural barriers and creating new forms of culture which can be easily accessed by their peers.

We are products of our environment, and by creating vibrant, cultural communities, we can inspire others to go on and achieve great things. As one of the youngest cities in Europe, Birmingham played a significant role in influencing my music and nurturing my talent. To be named as a pioneer of this New Beat Generation is an honour and I hope to help shape, in however small a way, both Birmingham and the UK’s cultural offering.

The research shows 18-25 year olds are at odds with those aged over 55, where art galleries, theatre and ballet top the cultural charts. This generation disagreed with their younger counterparts, with the overwhelming majority failing tolabelflashmobs (95%), social media (94%), stand-up comedy (85%), graffiti art (79%) or music festivals (72%)as worthy of the title of ‘culture’.

Emma Gray, Director of Marketing Services for Visit Birmingham, adds:

Just as the Beat Generation of the 1950s inspired a wave of young revolutionaries, today’s 18-25 year olds are challenging the norm by creating their own cultural activities.

As a result, young people are becoming the cultural lifeblood of the areas they inhabit;creating, attending and in some cases even funding events in new fields which benefit not just their peers but those older and younger as well. Nowhere is this more evident than in the five cities profiled in our New Beat Generation briefing, which have all seen a cultural explosion as a result of their young populations.



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