Birmingham could bid to stage the Baftas, the Brit Awards, the Booker Prize and the Turner Prize under plans for a new British Capital of Culture competition.
Birmingham’s culture chief has welcomed the government’s pledge to take the highlights of the UK’s cultural calendar out of London to other major cities.
Ray Hassall, the city cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture, has pledged to put Birmingham at the front of the queue to host the UK’s leading film, television, literature, music and arts events.
Birmingham’s track record in top cultural events includes the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest and more recently the Sports Personality of the Year Awards for the BBC.
Coun Hassall said: “Birmingham is already a cultural capital for the region with a wide offering, including a world class museum and gallery, the Birmingham Royal Ballet, one of the world’s greatest concert halls and a world class symphony orchestra.
“The people of Birmingham expect and deserve the best in culture and, in light of the culture secretary’s welcome comments we are extremely keen to enter into talks with the department for culture media and sport to see how our great city can benefit from this long overdue initiative.”
He was responding to culture secretary Andy Burnham’s announcement that he is considering whether major cultural events should be held outside the capital on a regular basis.
Mr Burnham said: “Too much of Britain’s cultural world is still exclusively focused on London. People expect London to stage world-class culture and art. But when those prestigious events take place outside the capital, the impact can be more powerful and inspiring.”
He also revealed a new panel will consider the feasibility of a British City of Culture prize beginning in 2011, with the winning city hosting the major events.