West Midlands Mayor Andy Street wants to raise the curtain on a new era for culture in the region, by agreeing a groundbreaking Creative Arts Devolution Deal with the government.

The metropolitan mayor – who prides himself on securing “tens of millions of pounds for the arts” – has said taking control of the region’s cultural funding could help protect the sector from financial risks such as Birmingham City Council’s bankruptcy.

Street launched the policy pledge as he visited Birmingham Hippodrome, to hear how national organisations Mercury Musical Developments (MMD) and Musical Theatre Network (MTN) are moving to the much-loved theatre, creating a new musical theatre hub in the city.

Andy Street wants to help Birmingham Hippdrome create a new musical theatre hub in the city Supplied
Andy Street wants to help Birmingham Hippdrome create a new musical theatre hub in the city

Both MMD and MTN are nationwide membership organisations supporting the writing and staging of new musicals, and co-produce BEAM, the UK’s largest showcase of new musical theatre. Alongside the move, they have announced that BEAM2025 will take place at Birmingham Hippodrome on 15 and 16 May 2025.

Andy also heard about the Hippodrome’s plans for the newly-acquired Southside Building – formerly known as Albany House – which, under his leadership, the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) stepped in to fund after the cash-strapped city council pulled out.

According to Street, a new Creative Arts Devolution Deal with government backing would help the region gain access to additional arts funding, fighting back against the centralisation of funding in London, and could jointly develop a new National Centre for Musical Theatre with the Arts Council, in the West Midlands.

The deal could also “fund better creative arts education and training at the region’s universities, colleges, schools and specialist institutions” a statement from the mayor’s team read.

Street also wants to explore the possibility of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery becoming a ‘National Museum’ with the support of national funding.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery could become a 'National Museum' with the support of national fundingBMAG
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery could become a ‘National Museum’ with the support of national funding

“The West Midlands is fast becoming a cultural powerhouse, with brilliant theatres, a booming creative sector, world-class production facilities, famous venues and a remarkable pool of local talent that is creating everything from must-watch TV to video games, and from cutting edge music to classical ballet,” he said.

“The Birmingham Hippodrome is leading the way and showing huge ambition. The arrival of MMD and MTN at this famous old theatre will make our city a hub for musical theatre – it’s tremendously exciting news.

“Just a stone’s throw away a genuine creative quarter is growing in Digbeth, with TV and film studios opening near the site of the BBC’s new HQ, while major TV shows such as Masterchef are relocating here.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street says he wants to save the arts following public cuts due to Birmingham City Council's bankruptcy Lensi Photography
Mayor Andy Street says he wants to save the arts following public cuts due to Birmingham City Council’s bankruptcy

“Since I became Mayor, we have seen huge investment in the sector, including £35 million regional funding for the successful Coventry City of Culture, and more than £20 million of Government funding to support work placements, bursaries and training for freelancers and new creative commissions.

“I was happy to be able to step in and support the Hippodrome with WMCA funding for the purchase of the Southside Building, but Birmingham’s financial issues have shone a stark light on just how precarious funding for the arts can be.

“That’s why I want to negotiate a groundbreaking new Creative Arts Devolution Deal with Government, so we can have control over our own cultural future.

“Having made very successful deals with Government for Transport, Housing, Skills, and overall devolved powers, it is now right to secure a special Arts and Culture deal.

“I’m confident that we can carve out an agreement that will allow us to raise the curtain on a new era for the arts across the West Midlands.”

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