Award winning chef Aktar Islam and stars of the city’s film, arts, sport, music and media communities have come together to champion Birmingham’s incredible diversity at an online Bank Holiday festival.
This Is My City is a celebration of Birmingham, through food, sport and the arts.
The festival is co-ordinated by United Community Activity Network (UCAN) and partners, with backing from the Birmingham Commonwealth Games community programme United by Birmingham 2022.
It’s a phoenix like rebirth after the coronavirus pandemic put paid to plans for the real-life Sports & Culture Festival 2020, normally held at Edgbaston Stadium.
Instead, determined organisers have created This Is My City 2020 Digital Festival, running from Saturday to Monday. (August 29 to August 31.)
The central hub of activity will be The Stage – an online venue via the This Is My City Birmingham Channel on YouTube, which can hold up to 100,000 viewers at a time.
The Stage will feature five one-off live events on each day of the festival, celebrating European culture on Saturday, Asian culture on Sunday and Caribbean and African culture on Monday.
Broadcast to the comfort of your living room, events include:
- Dishes of Change presents… Culture Cooking, showcasing live cooking demonstrations from Birmingham based chefs
- Commonwealth Inspired Sports, which is dedicated at looking at how sport can bring all genders and races together and can be modified to enjoy at home
- Film Birmingham will be showcasing a selection of local films of all genres at Heritage Films by Short Fuse, which is a platform for the work of emerging regional filmmakers.
Running alongside will be This Is My City Expo, a digital trade show to connect visitors with organisations who will be showcasing their services, products and resources throughout the three-day festival.
An after party will star performances and the best of Birmingham DJs.
The event has unveiled an enviable list of city champions who are Ambassadors for the event.
Meet the Ambassadors
Aktar Islam, chef
Birmingham born Aktar Islam is a multiple award-winning Michelin starred chef, restaurateur and entrepreneur. In 2018 he launched his flagship restaurant Opheem, the first ever Indian restaurant outside London to achieve a Michelin star. He recently launched Pulperia in Brindleyplace, dedicated to beef.
Aktar invests in the city and young talent, creating opportunities for young Brummies in food and business.
Shaleen Meelu, director of Healthy Futures
Shaleen Meelu, a founder of Healthy Futures and a registered nutritionist, graduated from Imperial College with a degree in biochemistry and has a Masters in human nutrition from Sheffield Medical School.
Shaleen led on a research project BINDI – Birmingham India Nutrition Initiative – which is a ‘nutrition smart city’ initiative that involves the development of policies and practices through a learning partnership between Birmingham, UK and Pune, India.
Joshua Williams, activist
Birmingham based activist Joshua Williams is a former Mr Birmingham and Guild of Students’ President at the University of Birmingham, who has championed the voices of minority groups, regionally and nationally.
Natalie Yesufu Edwards
She is an actress and entrepreneur.
Natalie has over a decade in the entertainment business working in the USA and the UK behind the camera and in front. She is the founder of the production and event company, Transition Stage, and is the brainchild behind the Enter Stage Write theatrical awards for script writers. She supports emerging talent across the region.
Christina Savvas, journalist and author
Christina is head of audience at Birmingham Live. A former reporter and deputy editor, Chrissy researched and wrote Queens Of Amathus and an accompanying documentary, telling the stories of women at the forefront of Greek Cypriot migration from Cyprus to Birmingham.
Paul Faulkner, chief executive, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce
Paul took over as CEO of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce in June 2015, having previously been CEO of Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa.
A history graduate from Cambridge University, Paul began his career at MBNA Bank, completing the Bank’s Graduate Management Scheme and working in a variety of roles across the organisation in both the UK and the US.
Rachel, a former Miss UK, has two young daughters and has developed a loyal following helping people get fit and eat better through a series of home workouts and sessions.
Marverine Cole, journalist and broadcaster
Marverine Cole is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster from Birmingham. Her media career spans 30 years, starting as a reporter and producer at ITV Central News and BBC Midlands Today before moving to London to present news and current affairs programmes for Emmy-award winning channel Arise News, 5 News and Sky News.
She is also a content creator, producing podcasts and digital news, and lectures at Birmingham City University.
Tru is a multi-award winning entrepreneur, creative director and events specialist.
He is the creative and events director for Aston Performing Arts Academy, a community interest organisation that empowers young people through performing and creative arts. Since the organisation started in 2004, the company has impacted the lives of thousands of young people.
Sindy Campbell, Film Birmingham
Sindy is responsible for developing and supporting the local industry and promoting the region as a destination for film. She has worked on productions including Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, along with Kingsman The Golden Circle, Line of Duty and BBC Doctors.She’s a film producer and sits of the boards of Royal Television Society Midlands, Fierce and Project Aspie.
Festival partners include Sport Birmingham, Legacy West Midlands, Birmingham Commonwealth Association, Birmingham City University, Edgbaston Foundation, Birmingham Chamber of Commmerce and Brum Hour. This Is My City festival 2020 headline sponsor is Transform Group, a Birmingham based design and build company, specialising in bespoke installations for the retail, leisure and hospitality sector.
Panikos Panayiotou, head of sport development at Birmingham City Council, said he was delighted to see the initiative take off.
“This is a time in which we need to show the world how diverse Birmingham is and how the city comes together in a time of need.
“The line-up for the festival is representative of what Birmingham is about and evidence that the Commonwealth has been in the city for over 70 years, not just as a celebration of 11 days of sport.
“This Is My City will become a legacy event for Birmingham and also a tourist attraction”
Festivities will kick off each day at 10am and run until 9pm.
Tickets can be reserved online for each day of the festival. The festival is free admission, however, a donation can be given when purchasing tickets online here
For more information, please visit the event website here.