A fair share for Birmingham – my speech on the arts and creative industries


Yesterday in Parliament we debated the importance of the arts and creative industries – not only for the economy but for people’s lives. I talked about the exciting creative scene developing in Birmingham, from local poets, to the small businesses growing in Digbeth, to the upcoming After the Event theatre production in Northfield.

I also called on the Government to scale up investment and harness Birmingham’s innovation and talent – especially by ensuring the BBC has a real and long term presence in our region. The Midlands has 16% of the UK’s population, but only 2% of the BBC’s programme making. We have a strong heritage – everybody still talks about the great days of Pebble Mill in the Midlands. But the fanfare that accompanied the BBC’s relocation to the Mailbox has not been followed through with action.

We have heard words before — the previous Conservative leader of the Council came out with a lot of words, as did the previous Director-General of the BBC. However, we must go beyond words and into action. We need more representation of local people on the TV screens and radio, which means getting more programmes produced, commissioned and made here. It means investment in local writers and crews, actors and production talent, and in the Drama Village that is already producing successful shows such as Doctors.

A few hours later, I was therefore very pleased to see that BBC Radio 4’s new drama Home Front – which will tell the story of life in Britain in the First World War – will be recorded right here in Birmingham! These early signs of change must lead to a fair share of investment for Birmingham.

You can read the full speech here.


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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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You can reach me by email at richard@richardburden.com or use the form on the Contact page to send me a message.