Lady Sanity performs at the Closing Ceremony of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games
Lady Sanity performs at the Closing Ceremony of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games

2022 Focus: Brum's Handover and Homecoming

On the 22nd of every month, the CGF will look forward to the 2022 Commonwealth Games – offering different perspectives and insights about the XXII edition of the Commonwealth Games, to be held in Birmingham, England. This blog post comes from Gary Topp, Chief Executive of Culture Central, who coordinated Birmingham 2022's Handover Ceremony at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony, as well as the Team England Homecoming event that took place in Birmingham yesterday (21 April 2018). 

Birmingham’s bid for the XXII Commonwealth Games in 2022 was about more than just sport. Our vision of “heart of the UK, soul of the Commonwealth” applies equally to our culture, education and legacy programmes - and our ambition is to provide a Games that embraces youth and diversity.

Our handover ceremony and homecoming celebration have given the world a flavour of what our city is about culturally - putting our young and diverse artists at the forefront. It’s a bold and challenging approach that represents the way in which we hope to engage communities across the Midlands, the UK and the Commonwealth in the run up to and during Birmingham 2022.

As Culture Central, we represent the collective voice of culture and the creative industries in Birmingham and the wider region. Culture Central is driven by the power of great partnerships and we built a great team to deliver the handover event headed up by Martin Green CBE and working closely with our colleagues at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

But the real stars of  the first ever fully choreographed live handover across two continents were the hundreds of talented young people that danced and performed in it and showed their distinctive city to the world. 

Our handover, Go The Distance, drew on the city’s pool of talent and was led by a young and diverse team of artists including film-maker Daniel Alexander who celebrated the people of Birmingham with his short film We’re from Brum; Rapper Lady Sanity who performed her track Go The Distance – a track that stresses the importance of tackling your biggest challenges head on; Amerah Saleh, spoken word artist and poet whose ode to Birmingham, Tourist in My City, ended with an invitation for the world to see our city, with Amerah throwing the doors open onto Victoria Square where a cast of almost 500 young people danced, sung and performed choreography created by award-winning Rosie Kay.

The unique live performance set to Mr Blue Sky by Jeff Lynne’s ELO was broadcast in a six-and-half minute single shot that took in our young cast of performers, Birmingham Royal Ballet Principal dancer Celine Gittens, the People’s Orchestra, choirs and drag queens.

Homecoming was a continued celebration not only of our cultural talent but also our sporting talent, with medal winners fresh from their successes at the Gold Coast arriving in Birmingham. Team England were given a heroes welcome reflecting the cities appetite for the Games, sharing their Gold Coast experiences with the crowds.

Working with Sampad South Asian Arts and Town Hall Symphony Hall, the event gave a flavour of the Urban Festival that Culture Central is planning for 2022, celebrating the talent of our athletes and artists and encouraging activity and participation in everything from dance to cycling and athletics.

Throughout the afternoon, members of the public tried out a range of Commonwealth sports whilst athletes joined the crowds in learning mass Bollywood choreography for the event finale.

What a two-weeks it has been in Birmingham, we’ve welcomed the world to our City showcasing our people and our talents and we look forward to the journey to come over the next four years until Birmingham 2022.

We will be mixing our world class cultural offer alongside our sporting excellence to tell a powerful story of a city that is globally competitive and highly distinctive.