New Art West Midlands 2017

Jas Sansi photographed the launch of New Art West Midlands 2017 at Mac Birmingham. The exhibition spans fours galleries across the West Midlands showcasing the next generation of artists from the region. Collaboration across the West Midlands reflects the emergence of the region as a devolved area. Its important, Arts lobby the Midlands Mayoral Candidates to ensure funding for Art remains on a palette dominated by Jobs, Skills, Transport and Housing. 

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This blog is not about the Art Exhibition. Information about that can be read in Area, a culture guide for the West Midlands: https://issuu.com/fusedmagazine/docs/area_nawm_2017 

I would encourage everyone to visit the exhibition held at four venues across the West Midlands in parallel. There are different works of Art at each gallery. 

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This blog is for Artists and those who work, support and enjoy Culture and Art. It’s about the new identity for our region, the West Midlands Combined Authority. Why is this important? An understanding of Government helps shape it’s structure. The West Midlands as a devolved area is currently being sculpted.

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The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is made up of seven councils; Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton. They each have a council leader e.g. in Birmingham it is John Clancy (@BrumLeader) and in Solihull it is Bob Sleigh (@cllrsleigh). 

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The West Midlands Combined Authority will be headed up by an elected Midlands Mayor. The candidates include Andy Street (@andy4wm), Sion Simon (@sionsimon) and Beverley Nielsen (@BeverleyNielsen). 

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The election of a Midlands Mayor is Thursday 4th May 2017, 10 days before the end of the New Art West Midlands 2017 exhibition. 

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The candidates are in the process of criss crossing the West Midlands, made up of 5 Million people of which 2 Million are eligible to vote. The key issues are Jobs, Skills, Transport and Housing. 

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It’s essential to  engage with the Mayoral candidates and ask the question, ‘What is your position on supporting the Arts and how will you ensure funding streams are maintained and increased?’ Go along to the hustings that are being hosted (Details at @westmidselects). There is always a Question & Answer session after initial presentations. Raise your hand and ask a question. 

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Its essential for the Arts & Culture community to be heard. It is equally essential for the Mayoral Candidates to understand the role of Arts & Culture in creating jobs and developing skills. There is a need for Cultural Institutions to be accessible via public transport and the need for affordable housing for the next generation of Artists. 

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Winston Churchill, under pressure to cut funding to the Arts and focus attention on the war effort replied in defence of the Arts ‘Then what are we fighting for?’

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The West Midlands is home to a population the size of a Scandinavian Country. It has an economy the size of Austria. It’s regional capital, Birmingham is the 2nd biggest country in the 7th biggest economy in the world. The West Midlands has to forge an identity to compete on a global scale post Brexit. The Arts are instrumental in shaping that identity. 

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I would encourage the Arts Community to leverage their voting power by reaching out to the Mayoral Candidates. The creative force and work of Artists attracts visitors to a region, this creates jobs, generates tax revenue and funds the vision of Government. 

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A number of awards were presented at the launch of New Arts West Midlands 2017. The artists gathered were encouraged to collaborate and not work in isolation. It was one of the most important messages shared at mac Birmingham. 

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Be vocal in your commitment to vote on Thursday 4th May 2017. Share with the candidates, issues important to you. Leverage the power of your vote and shape the identity and priorities of the West Midlands. That is what Churchill argued we are fighting for. 

New Art West Midlands 2017

Saturday 18th February to Sunday 14 May 2017

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

mac Birmingham

Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum (until 3 June)

Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Opening times vary

newartwestmidlands.co.uk    |    @NewArtWestMids

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@btinternet.com

 

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