Running from March to September 2022 as part of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the Birmingham 2022 Festival will feature hundreds of creative commissions across the region, benefitting hundreds of artists and thousands of participants, communities and audiences.

To bring the festival to life, £12million of funding has been independently fundraised by an in-house team. As previously announced, major support has been dedicated by Arts Council England and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Martin Green, Chief Creative Officer at the Birmingham 2022 Festival said; “The fantastic support of our partners and funders has enabled the Birmingham 2022 Festival to become the most ambitious cultural festival ever connected to a Commonwealth Games, animating the city and wider region with a celebration of creativity across the West Midlands.”

Announced today, a core programme of projects and productions within the festival will explore LGBTQIA+ stories within Birmingham and beyond, supported in part by Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Paul Hamlyn Foundation uses its resources to support social change, working towards a just and equitable society in which everyone, especially young people, can realise their full potential and enjoy fulfilling and creative lives.

Among these projects will be The Healing Gardens of Bab, a multi-disciplinary arts programme designed by Birmingham’s LGBTQIA+ communities in collaboration with artists from across the Commonwealth, offering transformative experiences and a space for respite, healing and discourse through performing arts, participation and design. More details will be revealed in early 2022.

Aaron Wright, Artistic Director at Fierce Festival, producers of The Healing Gardens of Bab, said; “Thanks to the Birmingham 2022 Festival and generous funding from grant makers and trusts and foundations, we’re excited to devolve power to the next generation of LGBTQIA+ creatives in the city to steer the project. Tackling complex homophobic colonial legacies will require a care centred approach that uplifts those who were most marginalised by the empire, to instead celebrate the rich cultures that were erased and eclipsed around the world”.

Sarah Jane Scaranaro, Head of Programme – Arts, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, added; “The Birmingham 2022 Festival celebrates creativity, collaboration and equity. This ambitious programme seeks to empower the voices of LGBTQIA+ communities; to shift power between institutions, artists and communities; and to inspire lasting change for a new generation of local creatives. We look forward to the 2022 festival and sharing what we’ve learned to contribute to a thriving, more inclusive sector.”

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation are also supporting LGBTQIA+ led commissioning within the Birmingham 2022 Festival, as well as dedicating funds toward a wealth of dance and movement projects that connect with and strengthen communities. Support from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation includes the funding of several major participation projects across the West Midlands including a wide-reaching, intergenerational scheme that will see hundreds of participants coming together to tap dance.

More details about this exciting tap dance project will be revealed in the new year. Stephanie Ridings, Creative Director on the project, said “Funding from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and support from the Birmingham 2022 Festival will give us the chance to connect with 100 residents of the West Midlands and co-create a celebration of our stories and the heritage of our region. It gives us the perfect opportunity to re-connect with each other and our towns and cities and get the region dancing.”

Founded in 1961, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation is one of the UK’s largest independent funders. The foundation supports three main aims: to improve Our Natural World, secure A Fairer Future and nurture Creative, Confident Communities – which is the main focus of their support within the Birmingham 2022 Festival. Alison Holdom, Funding Manager – Arts and Heritage Lead from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation said; “We believe everyone should have access to culture and creativity where they live. And we are delighted to support the Birmingham 2022 Festival, which has inclusion, representation and collaboration at its heart.”

The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, has also committed generous support toward the execution of these mass participation events. One such example is a project supporting the LGBTQIA+ community to come together during the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, providing a social safe space. The National Lottery Community Fund distributes money raised by National Lottery players, who raise more than £30 million each week for good causes across the UK and will continue to support activity in the region.

Blondel Cluff CBE, Chair of The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “We are delighted to support the Birmingham 2022 Festival in what is set to be a momentous year for the region, the country and the Commonwealth. Thanks to National Lottery players throughout the UK, communities will be coming together through a range of activities, where they can build connections with others and showcase their pride in the region and all it has to offer. We’re looking forward to seeing the lasting impact of this shared endeavour on people’s lives, and hope the legacy of our funding will support people and communities to prosper and thrive through regeneration, volunteering and employment opportunities.”

Throughout the festival, a number of commissions will present new work from international artists from across the Commonwealth. Canada Council for the Arts have granted funding to support a number of artistic projects throughout the Birmingham 2022 Festival linking Canadian artists and performers with West Midlands creatives. Simon Brault, Director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts said: “We are proud to support these collaborative presentations of exciting works by artists from Canada, at the Birmingham 2022 Festival. As cultural and social changemakers, artists challenge the status quo and tackle contemporary issues in meaningful ways, connecting people and communities.  With creativity, inclusion and diversity at the heart of the Festival’s programming, there are sure to be many benefits well beyond this amazing six-month celebration.”

Previously announced funded projects include Critical Mass supported by Spirit of 2012, Creative City Grants funded by Birmingham City Council and a series of international research and development projects made possible thanks to the British Council.

The Birmingham 2022 Festival will open on 17 March 2022 with Wondrous Stories created by world renowned and Leamington Spa based dance-circus company, Motionhouse. This free to attend spectacular show will transform Centenary Square in Birmingham with an extraordinary production featuring a giant aerial spectacle with a flying book and a colossal globe alongside innovative digital projections and a cast of over 300.