22 Nov 2023
by Feron Jayawardene

Birmingham’s cultural prowess takes centre stage at QBR launch


The strong cultural prowess of Birmingham and its impact on the global stage were the key talking points of the Quarterly Business Report launch.

The event, held yesterday at Birmingham City University was hosted by Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) CEO Henrietta Brealey.

The report, sponsored by Birmingham City University, is the most comprehensive of its kind in the city-region, offering an up-to-date snapshot of the performance of the Greater Birmingham business community.

During the launch, chief commercial officer of the Birmingham Royal Ballet Paul James highlighted the culture of Birmingham and the impact made by the Royal Ballet to the global audience.

Mr James said: “The Birmingham Royal Ballet conducts 140 performances every year to an audience of 155,000 globally while employing 120 people.

“There is a strong cultural economy in the West Midlands worth up to a £1 billion excluding tv and film. 20 per cent of tourists coming to Birmingham also says that culture is the main agenda of visiting the city.

“We are also working with 40,000 primary school students in Birmingham to find new talent through our Dance Track programme.

“We identify talented students through the programme and offer them free training programmes. The schools also recognise this as a potential career pathway for dance and ballet students.

“Our next goal is to bring back the GCSE dance curriculum back to schools.”

Speeches were also given by GBCC director of external affairs Raj Kandola, Partner at Mills & Reeve and head of their Birmingham office Jayne Hussey, and Joanna Birch, director of innovation, enterprise and employability at Birmingham City University.

Raj Kandola briefed the audience about the Quarterly Business Report for the third quarter.

He said: “Given that investment in infrastructure is a significant driver of economic growth and productivity, it suffices to say that the Government's recent decision to no longer proceed with the northern leg of HS2 has impacted the business community's overall confidence in the Government's commitment to levelling up, connecting regions for business opportunities, and making long-term investment in vital infrastructure for future needs.

“It is for this reason, alongside existing inflationary pressures and ongoing economic uncertainty, that the upcoming Autumn Budget will have to deliver solid commitments on key priorities to help regain buoyancy in the economy and to incentivise investment.

“Priorities such as reducing upfront costs for businesses, easing recruitment challenges and tackling trade barriers with our European counterparts will need to figure prominently if we are to restore much needed confidence to the business community.”

Jayne Hussey outlined the importance of the international trade market.

She said: “Mills & Reeve is a full-service law firm with 1300 staff and 160 partners with Birmingham having 40 odd partners. We are the largest law firm in England without any international offices. However, 30 per cent of our turnover is derived from international work.

“We have done this by assigning our staff who speaks more than 30 languages to strategically manage client needs relating to exports and international business.”

"Every time we talk and network with international clients, we have made it a priority to blow the horn for Birmingham and inform them about the opportunities present in the city.”

Joanna Birch spoke about the innovation opportunities available at Birmingham City University.

Pictured from left to right: Partner at Mills & Reeve and head of Birmingham office Jayne Hussey, GBCC CEO Henrietta Brealey, GBCC director of external affairs Raj Kandola, director of innovation, enterprise and employability at Birmingham City University Joanna Birch and chief commercial officer of the Birmingham Royal Ballet Paul James.

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