University secures £500,000 to put arts and culture at the heart of Birmingham’s economic growth

The Curzon Building

Birmingham City University has been awarded £500,000 to help boost Birmingham and Solihull’s cultural and creative economy. 

In partnership with Eastside Projects, the funds will support the University’s STEAMHouse project, which links the expertise of its Arts, Design and Media academics with specific challenges facing Health, Low Carbon and Manufacturing businesses across the West Midlands. 

Faculty of Arts, Design and Media

Birmingham City University

The money comes from the Arts Council’s Creative Local Growth Fund, with Birmingham City University being one of nine organisations in England to be awarded funding. 

STEAMHouse will bring together academics, creative entrepreneurs, politicians and researchers to provide innovative business support for 270 creative enterprises, generating new research opportunities and piloting Birmingham Production Space's workshops and 'making space'. 

STEAMHouse builds on a growing acceptance of the need to add ‘Arts’ to the longstanding concept of ‘STEM’ subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths – ensuring that the needs of the creative economy are more closely aligned to scientific and technological developments. 

“STEAMHouse will link the flourishing creative economy across the West Midlands with the needs of local authorities and businesses, providing arts-driven solutions to real-life problems and bringing academic and research expertise out of the shadows into the world of commerce. 

“Hundreds of small and medium sized creative businesses in the region are already showing the UK economy the way forward but with the support of STEAMHouse in developing new forms of production, they will be able to thrive more than ever.” 

Through STEAMHouse, Birmingham City University and Eastside Projects will establish links with local innovation and arts facilities. 

The aim is to create a network of organisations across the city focused on cultural, commercial and socially useful production. 

Anita Bhalla, Board Director, Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) said: 

“We are delighted that Birmingham City University has been awarded Creative Local Growth Funding for the STEAMHouse project. The need to drive the skills base around Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM) of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull (GBS) area is at the heart of the GBSLEP’s Strategy for Growth. 

“STEAMHouse will complement and enhance existing regional facilities like iCentrum by creating incubator, collaboration, making and innovation space in Digbeth, in the centre of Birmingham, providing a catalyst for the creative industries.” 

Launched in July 2015 the Creative Local Growth Fund aims to support arts and cultural organisations working with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and key strategic bodies to contribute to local economic growth. 

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said: 

“This is brilliant news for Birmingham and Solihull. Arts and culture are worth £7.7 billion to our national economy and this investment will put creativity at the heart of local plans to drive future growth and fuel the Midlands Engine. 

“We’re looking forward to working with our partners in the city to support creativity and innovation to thrive, benefiting local creators, makers and entrepreneurs.”

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