In the run up to the 2008 Creative City Awards, Councillor Neville Summerfield talks about the need for strategic partnerships and public celebration of Birmingham’s creative and business communities.

Birmingham is a wonderfully diverse city, both culturally and economically.

It is a place where communities can be confidently established, and positive communication throughout all sectors and backgrounds is always encouraged.

It is a true representative of the UK’s modern fabric and has always been a place of great achievement and great discovery.

Born out of industry, and once dubbed “the city of a thousand trades”, Birmingham continues to be a leading force in many of the UK’s most prominent sectors of business.

Over £18 billion is generated in business revenue every year from a population of approximately 1 million who live and work within the city, with the heart of England also playing host to hundreds of thousands of commercial clients and delegates who annually draw in a very prosperous £2.3 billion in business tourism.

Known historically for manufacturing, Birmingham has expanded on its reputation for being the birthplace of the industrial revolution and is now widely recognised for excelling other leading sectors including finance, retail, property, leisure and tourism.

The burgeoning creative industries in the region account for nine per cent of the area’s GDP and are creating vibrant cultures and communities, many of which are taking over the old warehouse and factory spaces that at one time were the very different foundations of the city’s working culture.

Digbeth and Eastside have seen organisations such as The Custard Factory, DEP Studios, Maverick Productions, Ikon Gallery and most recently the stunningly renovated Fazeley Studios all revitalise their work units and build a progressive hive of creative activity that is renowned both within the city and beyond.

Brindley Place, Broad Street and The Mailbox have attracted some of the key broadcasters to the area, with a growing collective of creatives besides them championing their own corner of the city. The Jewellery Quarter continues to house some of the most bespoke designers, agencies and independent boutiques in the country whilst the growing regeneration in Southside keeps the life blood of the creative industry firmly flowing though each stage of its progression.

As a whole, Birmingham has actively embraced this dynamic and rising sector of business, and through our fortitude and fortune will continue to reap the economic and cultural rewards it brings to the city.

As a civic leader Birmingham City Council has to establish and nurture progressive partnerships with all sectors of industry, within its city walls and outside them.

It is our duty and our proud responsibility to create a culture of communication, recognition and mutual respect from which a healthy marriage of the private and the public sectors can be free to build the roads to future successes.

It is imperative that we all, as a city, pool together our ideas and create platforms of discussion and debate where we can truly work towards a collaborative common goal.

If we represent ourselves as a whole, we can take the achievements, that we are so deservedly proud of with our own individual communities, and display them to a wider audience of peers both domestic and international.

It is with this widespread recognition of our cultural and economic achievements firmly in mind that I am proud to be a spokesperson for Birmingham City Council as we prepare for the city’s 2008 Creative City Awards.

The Creative City Awards are a high-profile celebration of the region’s strong and developing creative industries and bring together some of the most influential individuals and organisations in a public declaration of what, as a union, we as a city can achieve in this sector.

Attracting widespread regional and national attention, The Creative City Awards is the council-built platform where we have the privilege of heralding our area’s most outstanding creative businesses, and where we can help to support them and introduce them to the wider business and consumer communities.

It is a proud model of endorsement and encouragement, and nothing less than the creative industries, or any of our other business sectors in this continuously trendsetting city whole heartedly deserve.

n The Creative City Awards are being held at the Birmingham ICC on Saturday 29th November.