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West Midlands Challenge Fund: Sparks

Sparks - Creative Black Country

£200,000 has been awarded to Creative Black Country to create a new, inclusive art and culture project linked to the Commonwealth Games, following a collaboration between Olympic legacy funder Spirit of 2012 and Birmingham 2022.

The participatory performing arts project, entitled Sparks, aims to build bridges between D/deaf, disabled and non-disabled people using theatre and mime to tell stories of people around the Commonwealth.

The project will include live taster activity sessions and workshops for 280 people, with 165 adults going on to participate in regular performance workshops which will culminate in a touring performance and set of films to share across the Birmingham 2022 Cultural Programme.

Partners including Deaf Explorer, Black Country Touring, Disability Arts in Shropshire (DASH), Zebra Access, Deaffest and Deafscope will support and consult across different areas of the project.

Creative Black Country, based in West Bromwich, works closely with local communities to discover, explore and grow an exciting and meaningful programme of cultural activity in Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

The organisation is one of three to receive a share of £600,000 from the West Midlands Challenge Fund. The funding will culminate in a series of performances during the Birmingham 2022 Cultural Programme, a world-class arts festival running from March to September 2022, alongside the sports programme. The cultural programme will include new work, installations, exhibitions, performances and major events across the West Midlands.

Spirit of 2012, which is the London Olympic and Paralympic Games Legacy Funder, has collaborated with Birmingham 2022 on the West Midlands Challenge Fund to help build strong communities, improve wellbeing and empower inclusive participation in the arts.

Disabled communities have been disproportionately affected by the impact of lockdown, so it is really exciting to be able to plan a series of workshops with hundreds of people across the Black Country over the next two years, as well as a touring performance and series of films to share during the Birmingham 2022 Cultural Programme.

Arts and culture will be absolutely central to our recovery as a country, and funding like this will help us to do some inspirational work with deaf, disabled and non-disabled people across the Black Country just when it is needed most.

Parminder Dosanjh, Creative Director of Creative Black Country