The Birmingham Post recently peeked outside the city to see what is made of Birmingham's image. Responses indicated Birmingham is not viewed as a "major creative player".
As is often the case when it comes to perceptions of Birmingham, they are right - but also wrong.
We are not punching our weight. In reality across the creative and cultural industries, we are home to leading cultural players and vibrant creative businesses.
We can be incredibly proud of world class work from Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB), Birmingham Rep, CBSO and Ikon Gallery.
Birmingham Hippodrome is the best attended single theatre in the UK.
The CBSO, BRB and South Asian arts producers Sampad are in demand on all continents, while theatre company Stan's Cafe is currently on tour in Melbourne.
Beyond these flagships, we can celebrate truly rich and diverse cultural activity: the worldwide home of Bhangra dance; the largest arts based training initiative for young people in the UK, Gallery 37; the Fierce! international festival of live arts (remember the bird's nest on the Rotunda anyone?); Rhubarb Rhubarb, the festival of photography and ArtsFest, Europe's largest free arts festival. Birmingham is not a second city but a metropolis of firsts.
In design and new media, companies like Character Shop and Gas Street Works are attracting big brand interest.
The BBC and ITV have modern broadcast centres while companies like Dreamfinder and Maverick boast award winning productions.
Style Birmingham is showcasing the city's best in fashion, jewellery and style.
Local architects Sjolander Da Cruz , Glenn Howells and Holloway Foo are redefining our urban environment alongside international names like Urban Splash, Wayne Hemingway, John Rocha and Ken Shuttleworth.
This might all be news - and that's the problem. We're guilty as charged of not shouting loud enough.
Two years ago, all the public agencies involved in developing the creative industries formed a strategic board to ensure co-ordinated action. Schemes offering assistance in business support, skills development and start up incubation have been given clearer direction.
The Creative Birmingham Part-nership Board (CBPB) is addressing our biggest challenges: connecting up the city, developing bigger festivals, retaining young talent and exploiting our creative champions.
The FilmBirmingham office -proposed by the CBPB and enthusiastically backed by the Council - is already a success in its first year.
The majority of hits on its website are coming from America and Europe; it is about to launch an online locations service and developing an international film event for Birmingham. Over a year, leading practitioners have been working to form Creative Birmingham Business (CBB).
The CBPB is backing CBB, ensuring it becomes the collective voice of Birmingham's creative entrepreneurs and cultural leaders.
CBB is currently establishing a Creative Birmingham web portal.
We were all disappointed at missing out on European Capital of Culture status.
Forget that prize - Birmingham can still aim to be recognised as a European creative capital in 2008. n Kevin Johnson is managing director of Urban Communications which acts as strategic consultants to the Creative Birmingham Part-nership Board. Stef Lewandowski is managing director of design and 3form and a leader in the development of Creative Birmingham Business