Building Birmingham’s Host City Status
As Sustainability and Social Values Adviser for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies, Selina Donald saw first-hand the impact of the Games on the local economy and community. She shares her views here with Access all Areas.
This summer we saw Birmingham host the epic 2022 Commonwealth Games, inviting the world to the West Midlands. As bookends to the Games, the Ceremonies acted as a public stage to showcase the values of the host city and create a lasting legacy. This was a key priority for our team, so much so that we committed to 18 obligations which put sustainability and social values at the heart of our choices across procurement, production, delivery, and dissolution.
Enlisting local talent
We invited local talent across the arts, music and theatre industries to share stories, influence the content and cast their stories within the narrative to make it authentically Birmingham. This meant creating a show that represented Birmingham’s rich cultural heritage, historical milestones, and the Brummie sense of humour.
Diversifying the cast and workforce
We were committed to producing truly inclusive ceremonies, and how we could use our platform to feature the under-represented to an unprecedented level. The diversity of our cast closely mirrored the cultural diversity of the West Midlands, and one of our core targets was to promote the employment of people with a disability. From the outset we certified the business as a disability confident employer and employed accessibility consultants to ensure our environment was inclusive and accommodating for all requirements, from recruitment and cast calls through to the onsite management and the life-enhancing adventure of the ceremonies themselves. Some 4.2% of our workforce and 8% of our opening ceremony cast had a declared disability.
Bringing unique skills to the local area
We focused on sourcing talent from the local area. This resulted in 33% of the workforce and 31% of suppliers being local to the West Midlands, and over half experiencing working on a ceremony for the first time. We also set up a paid internship programme, providing 10 young people the opportunity to shadow industry leaders across our departments.
Some of our most valuable partnerships came through local social enterprises, from Jericho, which provided cleaning services, to their sister company, Woodshack which recycled all leftover timber, as well as creating iconic props with Chuckle Productions, a not-for-profit dedicated to inspiring learning and reducing isolation amongst young adults.
Leaving a lasting impact
One of the core principles of guiding a circular economy approach is to retain the value of assets, keeping them in circulation for as long as possible and ensuring they go on to provide social value for others. We donated 100% of our office and workshop assets to charities across the West Midlands, from the nationwide Scrapstore group to local gardens, charities and community groups.
Thanks to the success of the games and the profile raising of the city, Birmingham is been bidding for other large-scale events, from Eurovision to UK Athletic Championships, and has earmarked an incredible £21 million for future projects which will continue to firmly put Birmingham on the map as a host city.