• Over the last six-months, the Birmingham 2022 Festival attracted an audience of over 2.4 million

  • 4 out of 5 people thought the festival had improved perceptions of Birmingham and West Midlands.

  • An audience of over 750,000 visited the 9 free Festival Sites during the Commonwealth Games.

  • The festival featured over 200 events and was made by 82% of creatives from Birmingham and the West Midlands.

The Birmingham 2022 Festival today announces that the six-month celebration of creativity attracted an audience of over 2.4 million making it the largest cultural programmes to have accompanied a Commonwealth Games.

Audiences came from across the UK, with more than 750,000 enjoying the programme on offer at the 9 free Festival Sites during the 11 days of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Furthermore, an audience of nearly 500,000 saw artworks displayed in public spaces and there were over 500,000 engagements with artworks digitally.

Now, with the festival in its closing days it is projected that audiences of more than 730,000 will have also attended events, exhibitions and performances across the six-months of the festival bringing the total figure to over 2.4 million.

Since March, the festival has hosted a packed programme of over 200 events with thousands of individual performances, talks, screenings, exhibitions openings, workshop sessions and opportunities to take part in activities, ranging from a tap-dance on Ironbridge to making carnival costumes in Perry Barr as well as crafting gifts for competing Commonwealth athletes.

The Birmingham 2022 Festival was very much made by the region with 82% of creatives from Birmingham and the West Midlands. This included 106 community-led projects through the festival’s Creative City initiative, funded by Birmingham City Council, which connected local communities through art right across the city which incorporated arts activities and events created with residents in the city’s 25 most deprived wards.

There were also contributions and collaborations with 23 Commonwealth countries.

Early estimates also show that festival audiences came from a diverse range of backgrounds that reflected the programme and its celebration of the region. All audience findings will be made available in a full evaluation report to be published in January 2023.

Martin Green, Chief Creative Officer at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games said: “The success of the Birmingham 2022 Festival speaks for itself and is a testament to Birmingham and the West Midlands’ amazing creative sector. The last six-months have brought so many people together through a diverse and vibrant programme. We’re really proud of how the region’s creative organisations got behind Birmingham 2022 and to have had honest conversations about the Commonwealth. I’d like to thank all the creatives whose work always inspired and our funders for their trust and belief in the talent of the West Midlands.”

Raidene Carter, Executive Producer for the Birmingham 2022 Festival said:
“We hope everyone who created and came to the festival will be as excited as we are by these early findings. There’s a lot to be proud of and I’m delighted we’ve been able to showcase how diverse and inclusive the West Midlands is through a festival of wholly brand-new work. In many ways it’s been a creative time capsule for 2022 and it’s so exciting for the future. Working with our partners, we will now turn our attention to defining what the legacy of the festival can be to make the most of this moment.”

Birmingham 2022 Festival’s ambitious programme aimed to tell stories of our place in the Commonwealth; the present moment; and stories of Birmingham and the West Midlands. It included:

  • The outdoor spectacular Wondrous Stories which was seen by an audience of over 20,000 in Centenary Square and watched by a further 14,000

  • 15,000 keys were awarded to the people of Birmingham in Key to the City - an extraordinary gesture which gave anyone and everyone the freedom to visit a range of private and intriguing spaces around the city.

  • On Record – a new album by Birmingham artists featuring specially commissioned tracks such as It’s a Brum Ting by Friendly Fire Band and Champion by UB40 – gave global music fans a chance to listen to the sound of the city for free and to date has had 400,000 streams.

  • Birmingham’s city-centre sculpture of Queen Victoria was stunningly reimagined by Guyanese-British artist Hew Locke. Foreign Exchange created a vision of Queen Victoria standing in a boat surrounded by smaller replicas being sent out to represent her across the British Empire.

  • Queer artists from Commonwealth countries - including South Africa, Ghana, Canada, India, Australia and New Zealand - were celebrated in Healing Gardens of Bab – an epic and reflective programme of queer art in streets, squares and shopping centres as well as traditional spaces.
  • Critical Mass, the festival’s flagship participation programme funded by Spirit of 2012, engaged 242 young people aged 16 - 30 who identify as D/deaf, Disabled and non-disabled giving them the opportunity to perform side by side at major events including the opening of the Birmingham 2022 Festival and the Opening Ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The Birmingham 2022 Festival was made possible thanks to generous support totalling £12.4 million from a range of funders including Arts Council England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Birmingham City Council and Spirit of 2012.