A new shop set to open in Birmingham city centre has issued a challenge to the region’s artists and craftspeople to help stock its shelves.
We Are Birmingham, which will open at the end of October in Dale End, will sell items created exclusively in Birmingham and the West Midlands.
The shop is being created to give local artists from all fields an outlet for their wares as well as to promote Birmingham’s creative side to new audiences.
Aaron Andrews, managing director of We Are Birmingham, said: “The name ‘We Are Birmingham’ is a challenge to the city and to ourselves so that we always represent the people of Birmingham in terms of their artistic output.
“It’s saying, ‘it’s your shop, we want you to tell us how we should run it and what we should stock in it.’”
The shop has launched a series of sessions where would-be suppliers can submit their artwork to see if it is suitable to sell.
We Are Birmingham, which is run as a social enterprise, owes its origins to a temporary pop-up shop earlier this year which attempted to help Birmingham shake off its “clone town” image.
The original incarnation, Created In Birmingham, came about after the bloggers behind the website of the same name, Chris Unitt and Pete Ashton, talked to the Bullring about how it could better reflect the city around it.
Mr Andrews said: “They worked with the Bullring in terms of how it could be perceived as more Birmingham-centric, as the criticism that had been levelled at the Bullring was that it could be any high street anywhere in the world.”
The Created in Birmingham shop appeared in the city’s biggest shopping centre for 14 weeks – eight weeks longer than originally planned – but it is hoped the We Are Birmingham outlet will become a permanent feature in the city’s shopping landscape.
When Created in Birmingham closed, a new committee was formed to include those interested in getting the next permanent phase off the ground.
Mr Andrews said they decided to change the name of the shop to give it fresh identity.
“The committee looked into how we would go about setting up a shop in the spirit of Created In Birmingham that’s sustainable as a long-term prospect and as a permanent feature in Birmingham city centre.
“We renamed it to give it some sort of new life outside Created In Birmingham.”
Prior to its opening on October 30, We are Birmingham is holding drop-in sessions where artists fromm all fields, including painting, ceramics, photography and fashion, can show off their work.
Once it is up and running, the shop will also be holding weekly review sessions for prospective suppliers.
* Anyone interested in supplying the shop can take their work to the review days on October 10 and 11, from 12pm-6pm at Moseley Exchange, 149-153 Alcester Road, Birmingham, B13 8JP.