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Birmingham Day showcases progress in city's creative quarter

Senior BBC executive pledges corporation's commitment to investing in Birmingham

Citizen Khan creator Adil Ray speaks at Birmingham Day at Westminster

A senior BBC executive has pledged the broadcaster is committed to investing in Birmingham as representatives of the city's creative arts held an exhibition in the House of Commons.

Tommy Nagra, head of business development for BBC Birmingham, admitted the BBC had "neglected" the city in the past, was determined that this would change.

He highlighted a series of investments including the creation of a new digital innovation unit based in Digbeth , called the Guerrilla Group, to look at ways new technology can be used to produce or provide programmes and services.

And he announced the unit would be led by Will Saunders who currently manages the Online team for BBC Comedy.

Mr Nagra was speaking at the latest "Birmingham Day" event in the Commons, attended by MPs and other civic and business leaders including David Urquhart, the Bishop of Birmingham, and Sir Peter Bazalgette, chairman of Arts Council.

The event was organised by Gisela Stuart, Labour MP for Birmingham Edgbaston, and previous Birmingham Days have focused on industries such as manufacturing but this time centred on the creative industries.

Mr Nagra also highlighted the announcement in May that the BBC Academy, the BBC's centre for in-house and industry wide training , is to move to the city in 2015, alongside the BBC's human resources and internal communications departments.

Shows such as the Archers, WPC 56, Father Brown, Doctors and Homefront, a major audio drama debuting in August, were produced in Birmingham, he said.

Mr Nagra said: "I believe a strong BBC presence in Birmingham working with partners can only be good for the city and I think we have neglected our role in Birmingham."

But he insisted: "BBC Birmingham will become a centre of excellence for skills, talent and digital innovation in the heart of the country."

Comedian and producer Adil Ray, who writes and stars in sit-com Citizen Khan, which is based in Birmingham but filmed in Salford, told the event: "I'm immensely proud to be born and bred in Brum.

"It's such an amazing city for me. Without Birmingham, Citizen Khan would not have happened and I would not have been able to have that voice."

Firms with stands at the exhibition, which was held in a Commons committee room called the Jubilee Room, included the Two Towers Brewery based in the Jewellery Quarter, which produces a range of beers including Chamberlain Pale Ale and a stout called Jewellery Porter and a "very indulgent chocolate porter" named Bhacker Ackhams.

Also there was social enterprise Devenishgirl Bakery and a number of smaller firms in the digital and creative sectors, some based at the Custard Factory in Digbeth.

These included Whisk, which is the business behind an online shopping list app and based at Innovation Birmingham Campus.

Its software, installed on 130,000 devices so far, will recommend wine to go with the dinner you plan to cook based on the ingredients users are buying.

Birmingham City University was represented by Beverley Nielsen, director of corporate affairs, who said the university enrolled 6,000 students on cultural and creative industry-linked courses every year - producing more graduates than anywhere outside London.

There was music from opera singer Abigail Kelly, from Harborne, who studied at Birmingham Conservatoire and performed across the world, along with violinist and composer Shirley Thompson, a professor of music at Westminster University and the first woman in Europe to have composed and conducted a symphony within the last 40 years.

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