An update on Birmingham City Council’s efforts to maximise the city’s Commonwealth Games legacy is due before the council’s Cabinet on 23 September. The report sets out how the Games legacy will be achieved through bids to host a range of future major events, the staging of an annual international festival and investment in grassroots sport and culture.
As well as the ongoing bids for the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 and the European Athletics Championships in 2026, the city is also pushing for Villa Park to be on the list of stadiums that would form part of a Home Nations bid for the Euro 2028 football tournament.
The report to Cabinet additionally reveals further detail on the Birmingham 2023 Festival, described as “an anniversary festival for the city inspired by the Birmingham 2022 Festival for the XXII Commonwealth Games”.
It is stated the event would set in motion plans for the city’s new signature international festival in future years, which were first outlined in the council’s Commonwealth Games legacy plan, published in 2021.
The 2023 edition would give arts organisations a platform to outline their legacy achievements one year on from the Games. It is proposed the event would use the city centre’s main squares as a focal point and last for 11 days - echoing the 11 days of the Games, potentially running over two full weekends at the end of July/start of August.
In terms of support for grassroots sport and culture, the council aims work with partners develop plans to build on the findings of initial Games evaluation from the Government that stated that nearly half (43 per cent) of spectators suggested they would increase their activity levels as a result of the Games, rising to 71 per cent for the under-25s.
Alongside this, 107 Creative City projects took place across Birmingham, flooding open spaces in all parts of the city with art, co-created with local communities.
The legacy opportunity in this field of work is judged to be strong and the council will work with partners to identify and secure legacy funding streams and underspends to back organisations in to the two sectors.
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The Commonwealth Games were an amazing success and showed the very best of Birmingham off on a global stage – but I have always been clear that it was always more than just 11 days of sport. It is the start of a golden decade opportunity for this city.
“That is why it is absolutely critical we embrace the legacy opportunities available to us. Having put on the largest event in the city’s history we have proven beyond all doubt our capacity and capability to do so again.
“As this report to Cabinet clearly shows, major events enable us to lever investment from other partners worth many times more than the funding we have to put in at a city council level. It was exactly the same with the Games.
“The city and its residents face huge challenges in the months and years ahead, but it is more important than ever to stimulate activity by investing into our local economy to support community organisations, businesses and help people into work – sending the signal to potential investors Birmingham is very much open and ready to embrace opportunities.
“We know there is an underspend on the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, so by stating a compelling case for the use of some of those funds, plus our own financial backing and support from other sources, we feel we have assembled a package of proposals that will create the backbone of the legacy from what was an unforgettable summer of celebration for the city.”