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Digbeth Speaks exhibition offers a snapshot of life in Birmingham

'We asked people to sum up the area in three words – the most used were ‘heritage, proper and creative’'

An interview for Digbeth speaks taking place during the St Patrick's Day parade
An interview for Digbeth speaks taking place during the St Patrick's Day parade

A Heritage Lottery-funded project will create an oral snapshot of life in one of Birmingham’s most vibrant areas.

Digbeth Speaks is being led by members of the Friends of Birmingham Archives and Heritage to create an audio and visual time capsule of Digbeth and its diverse communities during 2013.

It will be housed in Birmingham Archives and Heritage at the new Library of Birmingham.

Organisers believe that until now relatively little about the area and its residents and businesses has been documented in official records.

Carly Hegenbarth, project manager for Digbeth Speaks, said: “Digbeth is an area we always go to. It’s always interesting with its diverse range of people.

“It was interesting to hear personal stories about life in the area in the 1960s and 70s and how compares with today.

Ms Hegenbarth, a PhD student at the University of Birmingham, came up with the idea for the exhibition with artist Sarah Taylor Silverwood.

“We didn’t feel there was much that documented contemporary Digbeth and we had a gem of an idea,'' she said.

“We asked people to sum up the area in three words – the most used were ‘heritage, proper and creative’. I find that really interesting.”

This project, which received £9,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, has captured a snapshot of the area as it is now by recording the arts organisations, small businesses, community groups and residents, as well as events and festivals in and around Digbeth.

 

Interest in the area has grown with the new BBC series Peaky Blinders - the recordings from which feature in the exhibition.

The project has been carried out by a team of 17 volunteers, including researchers at the University of Birmingham. By conducting one-to-one interviews and recording members of the public at a variety of events, the project volunteers have gained invaluable experience in community engagement.

They have also had training in conducting oral history interviews, equipping them with the skills to continue to engage with communities and lead heritage projects in the future.

The exhibition runs from October 4-October 13. Monday-Saturday 11am-5pm, Sundays 1pm-4pm.

For more information visit the Digbeth Speaks blog

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