READ the latest edition of AREA GUIDE here….

Pick up a copy of Area Guide from the area’s best coffee shops, bars, galleries and independent stores.

We’ve packed this edition with over 90 summer festival competitions. Read inside to find out how to enter. ALL of the festivals listed are up for grabs.

Read it online here.

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March Culture Listings >things to do, see and make

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1 March, 6:30 – 9:00pm (and 3 May, 6:30 – 9:00pm)
PICK UP STICKS – BEGINNERS KNITTING CLASS
Cherry Reds, John Bright Street, Birmingham
Stitches and Hos are a motley crew of enthusiasts for all things knitted, crocheted and stitched. For nearly 10 years they have been creating stitched chaos at festivals, galleries and shindigs. Anywhere they can get out their needles. This class is designed for those who are new to knitting or those who would like to reacquaint themselves with the basics. You will learn how to cast on (using the knit stitch method), knit stitch, purl stitch and casting off.
£30 includes all materials along with a hot drink and a slice of cake.

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4-18 March
FRONTIERS FESTIVAL
Gavin Bryars, Errollyn Wallen, Project Instrumental, Decibel, Anna Palmer, Hans Koller with BCMG, and works by some of the emerging talent from Birmingham Conservatoire’s composition students: these are just some of the experimental, creative and boundary-pushing artists headlining Birmingham’s Frontiers festival of new music (4-18 March).  The two-week Festival, presented by Birmingham Conservatoire, brings together some of contemporary music’s most forward-thinking artists and exciting new projects in venues across the city.

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11 March, 7.30pm – 10.30pm & 12 March 10.00am – 4.00pm
SPRING MAKES ART & CRAFT FAIR
Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry
Brush off the snow from your boots and step into spring with our spectacular arts and craft fair. Join us to meet a host of fantastic local artists and makers to help brighten your home ready for the start of a new season.

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11 March – 19 June
DEGAS’ DANCERS – A COURTAULD MASTERPIECE
Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry
A unique opportunity to see one of the masterpieces of The Courtauld Gallery’s collection in Coventry. The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry will be showing Edgar Degas’ famous painting, Two dancers on a stage, alongside three other works by the artist. A founding member of the Impressionist group of artists, Degas was fascinated with the ballet, painting dancers at rest, practicing and performing.

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Until 12 March
GERARD BYRNE – 1/125 OF A SECOND
Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre
Renowned for his film installations which re-enact conversations from specific historic moments, Irish artist Gerard Byrne works with photography, video and live art to explore the way we understand the present, through revisiting the past.

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12 – 13 March
THEATRES OF CONSCIENCE
mac birmingham
Women & Theatre in association with mac birmingham have worked with residents across the city to develop Theatres of Conscience, an engaging new production depicting the tribunal experiences of Conscientious Objectors in the First World War.
With 6 interactive performances to choose from over the weekend  Theatres of Conscience offers audiences the chance to experience a WWI community tribunal and observe men of conscription age come to request exemption from “joining the colours”.  Audience members will act as the panel of tribunal members as men come to share their personal situations and reasons for applying for exemption.

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13 March – 2 May
WILLARD WIGAN HOMECOMING EXHIBITION
The Lighthouse, Wolverhampton
Tiny, tiny, tiny art is on display from Wigan who is famous for the art he produces in the eye of a needle.

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17 & 18 March
VAMOS THEATRE: THE BEST THING
mac birmingham
The year is 1966. Sheila is 17, unmarried and pregnant. She is given no choice but to give up her child for a ‘better life.’ Based on true experiences, The Best Thing is a poignant, humorous and gritty story of mistaken morals and the power of unconditional love from Vamous Theatre, the UK’s leading full mask theatre company.
Tickets £14 (£12)

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23 March – 2 April
TRAINSPOTTING
mac birmingham
This punchy, immersive production recaptures the passion and controversy of Irvine Welsh’s cult generation-defining novel. For this 21st anniversary production, the Scottish cast have created a snappy, vibrant retelling capturing the power and humour of the piece.
Tickets £15

Until 27 March 2016
CAGLAR KIMYONCU
Artists’ Studio, New Art Gallery Walsall
Kimyoncu’s residency is informed by his perspective as a disabled person and background as the son of a professional soldier. Previous works have focused on the subject of conscientious objection and ‘being different’ in conflict zones. During his residency, Caglar will extend his research into the issue of the militarisation of youth, and seek to provide a space for those voices he identifies to be excluded or marginalised in society.

FESTIVALS in Birmingham you should visit in 2016

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Whether it’s dance, music or art that floats your boat there’s certainly more festivals to choose from than our poor wallets can cope with. If spending a day travelling and then sleeping in a muddy field isn’t your idea of heaven – then check out these gems taking place right on your doorstep this year.

COMA’S CONTEMPORARY MUSIC FOR ALL FESTIVAL
5-6 March
University of Wolverhampton, Walsall Campus, CBSO Centre, Birmingham
Weekend ticket: £15 full price / £10 concession
Fancy something a little more participative? Well this is the festival for you. A celebration of COMA’s innovative open-score project – this festival features contemporary music with a participative approach. Join musicians from Birmingham’s Contemporary Music Group, the CoMA East Midlands and CoMA West Midlands ensembles, and contemporary choir Via Nova to rehearse, workshop and perform pieces by composers with strong CoMA associations.
Anyone aged 18+ is invited to play or sing – all participants must be able to confidently read music; experience in a choir or band/orchestra is desirable but certainly not essential to join in the fun.

WHISKEY FESTIVAL
12 March, 12-5pm
The Bond, Digbeth
Tickets: £35 general admission & £75 VIP admission
Now in its fourth year – expect hundreds of whiskeys to choose from for your sampling pleasure – please pace yourself (responsible drinking of course). The organisers promise the most ‘creative masterclasses at any festival’, street food and lots of entertainment to shake your whiskey filled glass in the air along to.
Birmingham Whisky Club members can also score VIP tickets for £31.50 (plus booking), so if you’re partial to a dram or two it might be worth investing in a year long membership.

INSOMNIA 57 – GAMING FESTIVAL
25-28 March
NEC, Birmingham
Tickets: Day visitor £27, Weekend Visitor: £57, Bring Your Own Console (BYOC): £99
Obsessed with Call of Duty, giddy about Battlefront or spend your work breaks searching Youtube for gaming hints and tips to bust out out when you get home? Well you better pencil this date in your diary. As the UK’s biggest gaming festival it features a hitlist of special guests plus LAN gaming areas, Q&A sessions, esports tournaments and an exhibition hall to spend all your hard earned cash.
With a BYOC ticket you’ll be granted access to the event for the whole weekend, 24 hours a day; with a guaranteed seat in the LAN halls to plug your gaming device into, plus access to all other areas of the event.

FLATPACK FILM FESTIVAL
19-24 April
Various venues, Birmingham
Pictured top> A real highlight in the festival calendar (pictured) and this year marks its tenth anniversary. Having carved itself a respected place in the UK’s film scene over the last decade you’ll see an eclectic lineup of new features and shorts, with a sprinkling of special guests. There’s also an array of installations, walking tours and pop-up screenings o’plenty taking place throughout the city.

BIRMINGHAM COMIC FESTIVAL
23 April
Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham
Tickets: £10 standard entry ticket
A brand new event with over 100 exhibitors showcasing a range of publications, books, original art and of course – convention exclusives. There’ll be panels, cosplay and rare appearances from creators of DC, Marvel, 200AD and Beano.. A great excuse to order a costume from amazon, dust off your workwear and take on the persona of your favourite superhero for the day.

INTERNATIONAL DANCE FESTIVAL (IDFB)
1-22 May
Birmingham
Tickets: various £££ depending on venue, also free performances
Produced by DanceXchange and Birmingham Hippodrome IFDB is a major biennial festival that will provide a rare opportunity to watch world-class performances: from ballet to neoclassical, contemporary to physical theatre, hip hop to flamenco and circus all taking place in theatres and public spaces across Birmingham and the West Midlands.
A festival of UK and World exclusives, one being the world premiere of The Machine Show (Centenary Square, 11-14 May) a brand new dance and circus spectacular, with dancer and choreographer Melanie Lomoff (France) and hip-hop dance icon Salah (France), headlined with live music by the French band Rinôçérôse.

SLAM DUNK FESTIVAL
29 May
NEC, Birmingham
Tickets: General admission £46.20, including afterparty £51.70
Another festival celebrating its tenth birthday in 2016 and this year promises to be its biggest yet. With over 50 artists across 7 stages including: Panic at the Disco, New Found Glory and Four Year Strong, the organisers have this year incorporated the Genting Arena, Forum Live, Pavilions 1 & 2, plus outdoor stages.
Guest DJ’s, exclusive singings from your favourite acts, and what will promise to be a memorable afterparty.

BIRMINGHAM BEER BASH
21-23 July
Bond Co. Digbeth, Birmingham
If like us you enjoy a craft beer or two then you’ll raise your glass in appreciation of this festival. This year sees the introduction of the first Birmingham Beer Week with the Beer Bash as the pinnacle of the event. Interestingly the focus has shifted to keg beers and there’ll be a smaller number of breweries showcased at it’s 2016 event – pushing for quality over quantity. Don’t fret there’ll definitely be a beer there to tickle your tastebuds – with five sessions over three days even the biggest hopheads amongst you will rejoice.
Masterclasses, fringe events and entertainment are all part of the bash, not forgetting a range of street food to ensure you line your stomach!

Words: Kimberley Owen

AREA GUIDE > NEW CULTURE EDITION

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For the third year in a row we have teamed up with New Art West Midlands to present a special culture edition of Area Guide.

Featuring a wealth of new graduate talent New Art WM chooses the best of the graduate shows to present 4 unique curated exhibitions of work that focuses on cross-art forms. This year the exhibitions, which start this month, will take place at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, mac birmingham, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and Herbert Museum & Art Gallery, Coventry.

This edition also features upcoming exhibitions, festivals and cultural events taking place from now until May.

Read the edition online here or pick up an issue at the venues mentioned above.

SHOUT Festival 2015, 12 Nov-22 November

AudienceParticipation-RHPSBack for its seventh edition, SHOUT 2015 encompassing the best in live performance, theatre, comedy, music, visual art, talks and film that explores Queer and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and LGBT themes.

Here’s our pick of what to see… Continue reading

Fierce Festival 2015

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Fierce returns to Birmingham from 7-11 October 2015 with a mix of live art, music, dance, installation and the infamous Fierce parties alongside eight UK premieres.

Simone Aughterlony will present Supernatural, a dance piece exploring gender roles that has been well received at festivals in Europe and the USA, and is hotly anticipated in the UK.

In Happiness Forgets, performer Season Butler will re-enact the opening sequence of all seven series of 1990s TV classic The Cosby Show, which feature the Huxtable family doing a series of dance moves. Continue reading

EYE CANDY 2014: 13-15 November – FREE

Eye Candy Brochure.inddFused Magazine and Area Culture Guide’s very own annual celebration of illustration, artists and photographers returns to Birmingham and this year we are setting up camp in Digbeth, the creative hub of the city.

The free event, that takes place over one evening and two days, celebrates the best of visual pop culture with one-off installations, street art, workshops, talks and performance. Continue reading