Downtown in Birmingham: What’s in a Name?

Jas Sansi enjoyed breakfast ahead of a roundtable discussion at Park Regis Hotel. The conversation focused on the significance of what we, as a region of 5 Million people call ourselves. Invited guests also addressed the notion of Birmingham presenting itself as a second city. Opinion unlike coffee is rarely served black or white.



The American comic actor Robin Williams delivered a very funny  line in the 1987 film ‘Good Morning Vietnam’ Playing a military radio station disc jockey, he answered a request for a weather forecast as ‘you got a window? open it!’


It’s good advice if you are trying to measure economic activity in Birmingham. Sitting here in the Sky Bar on the 16th floor of Park Regis Hotel, you only have to look out the window to appreciate the level of transformation across the city’s skyline. It’s a good time to be in Brum. 


The roundtable discussion ‘What’s in a Name?’ invited opinion from members of the business community. There was a general consensus that Birmingham was too powerful a brand to not leverage in attracting inward investment. This was tempered with an appreciation the regions making up the Midlands have strong pride in their local identities. 


Establishing the collective identity of the Midlands as a devolved area will be challenging. Devolved regions such as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have the advantage of being countries. They can align their identity with national flags, political independence, regional languages, national anthems and teams etc.


Here in the Midlands, the Black Country has a flag, the closest we have to a First Minister is a regional Mayor to be elected on 4th May but we don’t have a regional anthem. There are regional accents, but English is a language we share with half the world. Identifying a name we can get behind is key to establishing collective identity. 


Birmingham has hard wired the label ‘Second City’ into it’s DNA. Both Manchester and Glasgow can equally justify the tag. It’s a badge no one around the table afforded much value in. Devolution under the leadership of a regional Mayor will hopefully shift the narrative away from being a second city to a much more positive ‘Midlands Engine.’


The creation of a Regional Mayor is an opportunity to bring the Midlands together under a single identifier. Whoever wins on May 4th, they will be responsible for, and accountable to 5 Million people. The language and words they use to represent the devolved region will be crucial from day one in office. How media report the Regional Mayor’s progress will help shape the name we will be known as in Westminster and in trade shows around the world. When Trump tweets ‘words don’t matter,’ he is wrong, they always matter. 


The campaign to come up with a better name than The West Midlands Combined Authority of Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull and The Black Country starts on May 5th 2017. I’ll be lobbying for ‘Greater Birmingham’ should there be a Referendum. I’ll be happy to trigger the Article 50 of poor descriptive words. 



Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Greater Birmingham and blogger for Downtown in Business.



Nothing Artificial in the Intelligence of attending #TPC2017

Jas Sansi photographed the thought leaders in the Ticketing Industry’s key annual conference in Birmingham. He looks at the future of how we embrace the live experience.

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The Ticketing Professionals Conference has left the building after 48 hours of insight and networking in Birmingham. The closing words from Co-founder of Ticketing Professionals, Peter Monks called to the Sports Industry and Venues to attend the next conference in 2018. I would certainly recommend it.


The Ticketing Professionals Conference (TPC) is an opportunity to meet others in the industry and build your professional network. Powerful channels of communication across social media platforms empower you to tap into advice and best practice around the world.


There is no better way to ignite such a relationship than with a face to face meeting at Conference such as this.

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The Conference attracted delegates from 28 different countries allowing organisers to tweet a ‘SOLD OUT’ sign ahead of the gathering at ICC Birmingham.


If you are a Business Development Manager or responsible for getting bums on seats for a Stadium, Venue, Gallery or Museum, ensure the Conference dates for 2018 are in your diary. It is often that single golden nugget of information that delivers a return on your investment in attending.


The opening plenary was delivered by Craig Sullivan (@OptimiseOrDie) His fast paced and illuminating speech suggested the future of ticket purchasing was a whole new game. Craig shared with a packed Hall 11 the notion that in the future, Artificial Intelligence built into your home would manage the process of ticket buying. I’ve been thinking about that.


We all live busy lives. We often hear about events on social media when friends or colleagues post a picture. It may even be an event you wanted to attend, but a social media post means that boat has sailed.


But consider Craig’s vision for Artificial Intelligence (AI). It would know who and what you like. It would have a record of your internet search history, mine for example would reveal I often play U2 songs on YouTube whilst working.


Big Data and the Internet of things would feed into my home’s Artificial Intelligence. Imagine this scenario; U2 announce a European Tour. Artificial Intelligence knows I enjoy their music, AI knows it’s my wife’s birthday, AI knows the balance of my bank account, AI knows Birmingham Airport has daily flights to Paris, which hotel rooms are available, AI knows I speak French because of the online lessons I have taken.


It collates this data and welcomes me home with a suggestion I take my wife on a weekend trip to the French Capital and see Monsieur Bono and the band . All I have to do is confirm, and the entire purchasing process is carried out. Tickets for; an Uber cab to the train station, HS2 train to the airport, flight, hotel and concert in one simple instruction.


The future can be a scary place, its also terrifyingly exciting. Especially if my bank balance allows me to do all those things.

Dates for The Ticketing Professionals Conference 2018 will be announced on Follow on Twitter @ticketingprofs. Hope to see you there.

Full set of images from #TPC2017 can be seen at:

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a trustee of LoveBrum, columnist for the Asian Today Newspaper and blogger for Downtown in Business.

@jassansi      07930 837 505

Downtown in Business blog on TPC2017:

Blog on Birmingham for TPC2017:





Ticketing Professionals Conference 2017

A very warm welcome to Birmingham to all delegates attending the Ticketing Professionals Conference 2017. The two day gathering opened yesterday at Birmingham ICC  and will build on last year’s successful inaugural year. 

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Delegates flying into Birmingham will be landing at the world’s most punctual airport which recently enticed British Airways to return after a prolonged absence. It’s also the only airport in Europe which will have it’s own High Speed Train Station due to open in 2026. 


The catering at the venue, ICC Birmingham will be provided by Amadeus who delivered the food and drinks for London 2012. Enjoy the food from the award winning team who fuelled Usain Bolt in his 100 metre dash on what is remembered as Super Saturday. 

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If you fancy a coffee before the Conference kicks off, there is a new Starbucks at the ICC. This is a concept store with table service if you want it, a community area you can book for meetings and a tasting counter for new products. 

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Should you wish to enjoy dinner in the city, there have been 26 new restaurant openings since last year’s conference. Time is short but one of my favourites is Zen at Metro Bar. It’s a Thai Restaurant. If you love Thai food, you will be delighted with this gem. Give the manager Jaimom a call on 0121 200 1911 and tell him Jas Sansi sent ya.

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St Patrick’s Day is huge in Birmingham. Last Sunday saw the third biggest St Patrick’s Day Parade in the world after Dublin and New York. Enjoy a pint of Guinness at O’Niells on Broad Street. They are raising funds for Birmingham Children’s Hospital as part of their celebrations. Say hi to General Manager Pip White. 


If you’re staying at Hyatt Regency, their pub The Gentleman & Scholar was recently voted Best Bar. General Manager Mario Flanagan is one of the sharpest dressers in Brum  (On Twitter @FlanaganMario) and will ensure your stay is one you will remember fondly. 

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If you’re staying at Jurys Inn, their restaurant Pushkar was recently voted Best Fine Dining Restaurant. Both Rai Singh and Ivan Panayotov head up a superb team delivering world class Indian Cuisine (on twitter @PushkarBham)

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If you opted to stay in the Colmore Business District and booked in at Hotel du Vin, you are in for a treat. General Manager Tony Elvin (@TonyElv) is one of the nicest guys you can meet. He leads a team that can boast almost as many awards as great wines. Simon Cowell is a regular. 

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There’s a new hotel near the ICC Birmingham. Park Regis have chosen Brum as their first European operation. They have a roof top Japanese restaurant called ROFUTO. Speak to Lara @RofutoTweets and she will assist you with the menu and the view across Brum’s skyline. 


Brum’s skyline is peppered with cranes as the city undergoes a dazzling transformation. There’s a real buzz to the place and one I have no doubt you will experience during your time here. 


I’ll be tweeting live images from the conference across both days. The hashtag is #TPC2017. If hoping for an awesome Conference City,  you’ll find Birmingham is just the ticket. See you there. 

Jas Sansi (@jassansi)

Hugs and Perseverance for IWD

The Asian Business Chamber of Commerce welcomed 100 guests to celebrate International Women’s Day at Edgbaston. The annual event for the group, part of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce continues to grow in popularity. Jas Sansi was there with his Nikon camera.


The sun sets in front of Edgbaston Stadium basking it in golden hues. On an early Spring evening, dusk throws long shadows from nearby trees that have yet to leaf. It’s a challenge to photograph the venue’s exterior with a wide angle lens without incorporating your own shadow in the frame. The results are worth it.


Edgbaston hosted the annual International Women’s Day in the Warwickshire Suite. The room overlooked a cricket field receiving attention by a team of dedicated grounds people. The team are also basking in a glow of an exciting schedule for 2017. 


Key note speakers for the evening were Anita Bhalla OBE, chair of Performances Birmingham and Farzana Baduel, CEO of Curzon PR. 


Both are perfect ambassadors for International Women’s Day. Between them, they span England, India, Pakistan, Africa, The Middle East and USA. 


Anita and Farzana shared their individual journeys and the challenges they faced along the way. If one word stood out, it is perseverance; the notion of having the strength and determination to keep on when your instinct tells you to take an easier path. 


Anita paid tribute to her mother and Farzana, her father who were instrumental in the successful paths both have travelled. 


The Chamber news bulletin will expand later this morning on the key messages delivered by the speakers. It was an inspiring night and who will forget Anita’s call to stand up and give the person next to you a hug. In a decade of photographing business events, its always great to witness a ‘first.’


Many thanks to Anita Bhalla OBE and Farzana Baduel. Huge thanks to the Chamber Events Team, the Edgbaston Team and all who attended smashing another event out the stadium. 


Asian Business Chamber of Commerce may have to consider moving from the reception suite to the banqueting suite at the iconic stadium if the event continues to grow at it’s current rate. 


Enjoy the full set of images at:

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce are online: and on Twitter @GrBhamChambers

Asian Business Chamber of Commerce are on Twitter @AsianbizChamber 


Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a trustee for LoveBrum, columnist for the Asian Today newspaper and blogger for Downtown in Business. Is also rumoured to be @anjumsbutler

@jassansi  07930 837 505

What Next for Birmingham?

Downtown in Birmingham hosted a roundtable discussion ‘What Next for Birmingham?’ Members of Greater Birmingham’s business community shared their thoughts over lunch at the stylish Hotel La Tour. Jas Sansi chaired an illuminating exchange of views.


Sit on one of the many beautifully crafted sofas at Birmingham’s Hotel La Tour and listen carefully. You can almost hear the sound of the first High Speed 2 train sweeping into Curzon Street opposite this boutique hotel. 

Waiting here for invited guests between a bar on one side and the retail heart of Brum on the other, I am delightfully conscious Birmingham is 9 years and 49 minutes away from London Euston.

HS2 stamped with it’s long awaited Royal Assent is due to arrive in 2026. The journey between the Capital and the first city outside the Capital is just 49 minutes. Grab a coffee to go and it will still be warm when your arrival is signalled in Zone 1.


Birmingham is embracing the notion of high speed. It’s skyline long defined by a dominating BT Tower is sprinkled with cranes. The satellites perched at the top of the BT Tower have emitted signals for decades to come invest in Brum. Those signals have been received and responded to. This is a city witnessing unprecedented change. 

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Downtown in Business, who began in Liverpool, extending their influence to Manchester, Lancashire and Leeds are an organisation that recognise Birmingham is primed for greater development.

The Downtown in Business journey follows the HS2 track south and leads to Westminster where national decisions are ultimately made. Downtown in Birmingham is their local satellite branch. The organisation led by Frank McKenna is a bridge between strong regional centres of excellence and central Government. 


The roundtable discussion invited comments on where Birmingham sees itself as we enter this chapter of political devolution and economic confidence. 

Tim Andrews, Chair of LoveBrum began with the notion of Birmingham’s narrative and the story it presents to the world. The challenge in a city of a thousand trades and immense diversity focuses on the fact there are so many different stories, which one defines Brum?


The branding of the region as the West Midlands Combined Authority continues to polarise opinion. Paul Brown from The Black Country LEP explained this is an evolving idea with parallel visions of a Midlands Engine. The prefix ‘Greater’ has benefitted Manchester and London, it’s being adopted by Liverpool but it struggles to win hearts and minds outside Birmingham. 


The forthcoming election of a Midlands Mayor on 4th May was discussed as a key influencing element in the progress of Birmingham. It was considered a ‘hard sell’ to the region. A Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce survey discovered 51% of businesses across the West Midlands were not aware of the Mayoral Elections. 


Birmingham as a liveable city was discussed. Transport links and affordable homes were considered central to this issue. There was a general consensus that driving a car in the city centre was increasingly a challenge due to the level of development going on.

This will only become more challenging as the construction of HS2’s Curzon Street station begins. Hotel La Tour are in conversation with HS2 Project Managers, one enquiry was the possibility of the Hotel moving their entrance to the other side of their building.


There is so much to talk about right now in Birmingham and the Midlands region. Time did not allow us to even touch upon MIPIM, the international property show being held next week in Cannes. The Midlands will be exhibiting collectively to reflect the new era of devolution and regional collaboration.  


Many thanks to Hotel La Tour for hosting the lunch at their signature restaurant, Mr White’s English Chophouse. Thank you also to all who joined the roundtable conversation. 


For more information about Downtown in Business see:

Downtown in Birmingham are on Twitter: @DIBBirmingham

Hotel La Tour are online: and on Twitter @Hotel_LaTour

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a trustee of LoveBrum, a columnist for the Asian Today newspaper and blogger for Downtown in Business.

@jassansi      07930 837 505 sansi1@

Birmingham is a Knock Out City

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I was asked to photograph the Floyd Mayweather event on Saturday. The promotor asked me to give him a call, one of the corporate sponsors mentioned it again a few weeks later. 

I did a little background research on the American boxer and spoke to friends who had been to one of these events. 

I focus on shooting award ceremonies and conferences, business and political events. I’m more than comfortable working with Prime Ministers, Presidents and Politicians, often surrounded by trained officers carrying guns. 

The Mayweather assignment troubled me. I carried out a risk assessment and decided to not pursue the conversation. I remember my nephews flying to Las Vegas for the Mayweather Pacquiao fight, so I even turned down the opportunity of being a cool uncle, photographing one of their heroes. 

Instead I went out to dinner with my wife to Zen Metro Bar in the Colmore Business District. It’s a place Bill Clinton tried to book out whilst he was in Birmingham for the G7. The restaurant was already booked and couldn’t accept what must have been a very tempting offer. 

All of the headlines today are about Mayweather’s van being set alight by vandals. I’m genuinely sorry to hear it. Friends and family who attended the event at Birmingham ICC tell me it was great. My brother in law who owns AB Cakes even made the birthday cake presented to Mayweather to mark his 40th birthday. 

This is not the sort of publicity Birmingham needs. Mayweather’s following spans around the world and fans will be on social media to read updates about his tour. The impression they are getting about Birmingham is not good. 

I would like to reach out to them, to tell them this is an amazing city. Its home to over 1 million people from 170 different nationalities. It’s a creative, young city with immense opportunities to those who are born here or lucky enough to move here.  

It’s a city with more trees than Paris, more Universities than Florence and yes, more canals than Venice. 

We have three amazing football clubs who’s collective roar on a Saturday afternoon echo across the city region. The fans urge their teams to win just as the people want the city to win. 

Please don’t read about the irrational actions of individuals and believe they reflect who we are. We have fire in our hearts, not petrol bombs in our hands. 

Read more about the city at:

Link to the Birmingham Mail story about Mayweather’s birthday cake:

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, and a trustee of LoveBrum.

Floodlights on ABCC International Women’s Day


I’m looking forward to the International Women’s Day event this Wednesday at Edgbaston Stadium. The Asian Business Chamber of Commerce (ABCC), part of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce host the annual dinner. The event has enjoyed growing popularity year on year both in the number of people attending and awareness of the event. 


A guest list of the region’s business community will have the opportunity to listen to Anita Bhalla OBE and Farzana Baduel. Anita is the face and founder of BBC Asian Network and uses her unrivalled experience in media to steer a number of boards both as Chair and Member. 


Farzana is CEO of Curzon PR, a strategic marketing communications agency. As a thought leader, Farzana is a passionate advocate of equal opportunities within the workplace. 


As a trustee of LoveBrum, responsible for Inclusion and Equality, its been a pleasure to witness International Women’s Day become a fixture on Birmingham’s Event Calendar. ABCC recognises the value in casting Edgbaston’s floodlights onto International Women’s Day in celebrating the contribution of women in business. 


Details to attend are below. In a venue many have been bowled out, I guarantee you’ll be bowled over. Hope to see you there. 


ABCC International Women’s Day 

18:00 – 21:30

Wednesday 8th March 2017 

Edgbaston Stadium 

Members £28 + VAT

Non Members £40 + VAT 

Link to further details and booking:

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a trustee of LoveBrum, columnist for the Asian Today newspaper and blogger for Downtown in Business.

@jassansi      07930 837 505