Like all major British cities, the decline in industry and manufacturing in the last century left Birmingham with vast areas of its urban landscape standing only as crumbling monuments to their former vitality and purpose. Once the city’s beating heart, the Eastside district fell into disuse and dilapidation, occupied by a few small businesses and the ghosts of factories, foundries and workshops.
The renovation of The Custard Factory, which began in 1992 and continues today, saw the former Bird’s complex transformed into thriving creative hub where independent art, digital and media businesses rub shoulders with galleries, boutiques and night clubs. It signified the beginning of the area’s cultural regeneration which has gathered pace over the last decade, with it gradually becoming home to a diverse array of organisations, from visual arts to music, craft, design and literature.
We Are Eastside is a new joint venture from sixteen organisations based in the area, including VIVID, Eastside Projects, Ikon Eastside, The Lombard Method and 7 Inch Cinema, coordinated by Capsule, Birmingham’s renowned music and arts promoters. It aims to bring the vibrancy of this “cultural playground” into sharp focus for residents and visitors alike. Taking the form of a blog, it will act as a gateway into the exciting but largely underground activity going on in Eastside.
Hopefully by bringing a sense of unity to the multitude of projects, it will not only give greater prominence to the area but also ensure that the notion of Eastside as a creative quarter endures and thrives as part of the city council’s plans to redevelop the area. What could be more welcoming to new visitors as they step off the (proposed) high speed rail link with London, which would terminate at Curzon Street, and breathe in the (fingers crossed) Capital of Culture?