Easter Activities Across the District

Looking for something to do over the Easter holidays? There is plenty going on in and around the district for all ages. We’ve compiled a list of our favourites below.

Selly Manor are holding some Eggcellent Easter Eggtivities, hop on down and make a cute Easter animal or greetings card, an Easter basket or a spring nature spotter; you can even join in the egg hunt. (Open Monday – Friday, 10am – 5pm. Saturday and Sunday, 2pm – 5pm.)

Easter Eggs

Or if Druids Heath Library is closer to you, get creative at their free Easter Craft Session. (Saturday 19 April, 10.30am – 11.30am.)

If dance is more your thing, join local professional dance company RDC Youth for some free, high quality workshops and performances in Walkers Heath Park. (Thursday 24th April, 12pm-4pm.)

The Roadhouse have some fantastic gigs lined up as usual and on Monday 14th they’ve got a free comedy night featuring some great local comedians. (From 8pm.)

The next Stirchley Community Market is on Thursday 17th April at Loaf Community Bakery and Cookery School which gives you just enough time to stock up on some fantastic local produce for an Easter feast.



Have a great break!

Cuts to our Libraries

SatelliteWe attended a workshop at the rather beautiful Yardley Wood Library last week about cuts to library services in this district. The year after the opening of a fantastic all singing all dancing Library of Birmingham, local libraries are being affected – in a major way – by further cuts.

The district has to make savings of £95,000 (£50,000 from main budget & £45,000 from the Book Fund) in this financial year & another £50k for next financial year (out of a total controllable net budget of £484,000 & book fund of £65,000).  A total of £145,000 cut over two years.

As Karen Cheney, Head of the District said it is no longer a case of “tinkering at the edges” in making small changes, these kind of cuts are big & will be felt through reduction in staffing, reduction in opening hours, reducing the book fund & potentially through introducing self service machines, more volunteers, co locating services and finding ways of maximising income streams. This is your opportunity as local residents to comment on the cuts being made & although the cuts are here to stay and have to be made it is an opportunity to comment and potentially affect how they are implemented.   However, Karen Cheney says “we need to step beyond ‘please do not shut our libraries’ and give feedback and ideas” about the future of our community libraries.

Ideas that were mooted at the meeting included a controversial idea of charging to be members of the library, charging to borrow ‘new books’, reintroducing reservation charges, maximising income through sharing library spaces & using them (where space is available) as conference facilities.

There was also the possibility of local libraries becoming a mutual or a community trust & the service being taken over & led by staff, becoming independent of BCC and therefore being free of having to do things a certain way e.g. having to use Service Birmingham but also having the opportunity to bring in other income through becoming charities. This proposal is being developed at the moment.

As an arts forum we have worked in partnership with local libraries to present exhibitions, workshops & performances.

scrap it1Scrap It! exhibition at Stirchley Library, Art SOAK 2014

They are an important part of our cultural landscape, often libraries feel very ‘owned’ by local residents – people feel comfortable in them in a way that they may not in other cultural spaces for e.g. theatres. They therefore opportunity for us to reach residents that we may otherwise struggle to engage with arts & cultural activity – for example we recently programmed Katrice Horsley, an award winning storyteller at Yardley Wood Library. Her stories were from around the world & her audience reflected the great diversity that makes Birmingham the thriving multicultural city that it is.

We would urge any local residents with views & thoughts about how these cuts can be implemented to comment through their local library or by emailing sellyoak@birmingham.gov.uk





A Q&A with Barbara Nice

We were lucky enough to be allowed a few minutes with our favourite housewife as she prepares to bring her Jamboree to Art SOAK tomorrow.  We think we can all learn something from her answers.  

What inspires you?

I feel inspired when I see performers who really engage an audience and who have spent time thinking about what they are doing, put work into it and have content that is uplifting for the audience.

What’s the most important thing for a new act to think about?

A new act has a lot to think about. Its important to be open and analytical -working out what worked and why and conversely what didn’t work and why.

What’s the silliest thing you’ve done in the name of comedy?

I’ve done a lot of silly things – I ate whole chilies on stage, I’ve gone down stairs on a tea tray and called down aliens with a cat clock.

If you were a super hero what colour would your cape be?

I would have an animal print cape.

What’s so great about the Jamboree anyway?

The Jamboree is a great night out with a mixed and varied line up with something for everyone. It’s friendly and brings back the old days of cabaret with a contemporary twist.



Join Barbara tomorrow together with a whole host of other acts including Jonny Sorrow and Stitches & Hos at The Red Lion, Vicarage Road, Kings Heath, Birmingham B14.  Book tickets on http://www.oxboffice.com.  We are sorry but this event has limited mobility access, please contact artsforumsellyoak@gmail.com to discuss your access needs. 


Art SOAK 2014 Guest Blog: Tom Cahill-Jones: Thissen Thatten

For last year’s Art SOAK Tom brought us the wonderful Hinterland, a shed made out of wood reclaimed from the Stirchley area that stood on a very snowy day overlooking what will soon be a Tesco, playing recordings of interviews with former and current residents recalling their memories of the area. This year Tom is back with another exciting project, Thissen Thatten which will be behind the scout hut in Selly Oak Park on the corner of Gibbins Road and Harborne Lane, 12-3pm on Sunday 16th March. Here he tells us more about it…


Inspired by the work of the Lapal Canal Trust, Tom Cahill-Jones’ Thissen Thatten imagines a future where Dudley and Selly Oak are connected once more, through the reintroduction of the lost 5.4-mile channel. 10 boxes, made from wood reclaimed from the local area and containing objects connected to Dudley – some humorous, some not so much –, will be positioned along the route of the old canal, behind the Scout Hut in Selly Oak Park. People are invited to search the area and find this bounty, as if precious wares had been transported along the reopened trade route and stored as treasure by astonished Selly Oakers, only for their containers to remain uncollected.


The Dudley No. 2 Canal opened in 1798, providing a direct link from the Dudley No. 1 Canal in the Black Country to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in Selly Oak, from where, the major southern waterways could be accessed. Its route included a 3,795 yard tunnel (described as a long and eerie drainpipe) starting in Lapal, Halesowen, and emerging in California, Birmingham. Unfortunately, the tunnel was built through a geological fault, resulting in a series of roof falls. By 1917 it was decided enough was enough and the tunnel was abandoned. By 1953, the length from Hawne Basin on one side to Battery Park on the other was decommissioned; the “Lapal Canal” is the name given to this portion, now completely filled in.

The installation will appeal to curious adults and curious children alike.

For more information on the Lapal Canal, please consult http://www.lapal.org.

Additional links:

Dudley Canal: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dudley_Canal

Dudley No1 Canal: http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/canals-and-rivers/dudley-no-1-canal

Dudley No2 Canal: http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/canals-and-rivers/dudley-no-2-canal

Worcester & Birmingham Canal: http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/canals-and-rivers/worcester-and-birmingham-canal

The Showcase, Friday 14th March, 7pm FREE

We are lucky to be in a district with so much talent & are delighted to showcase emerging artists and poets from the University of Birmingham.  The Forum has been making connections with various parts of the University for over a year now, last year Sarah Silverwood who was the then Artist in Residence from UoB delivered a workshop at Druids Heath Library (take a look at her blog http://www.sarahsilverwood.com) & Max Merrick Wren played us some of his lovely songs at Leverton & Halls Deli.  This year we are delighted to give another opportunity for Max to step into the spotlight with covers & originals – here’s a recent video

He will be joined by Tamar Williams who won the Young Storyteller of the Year Award & has been doing all sorts of other wonderful stuff including acting in The Rep Foundry artist Polly Tisdall’s Bright Child: Icarus Reforged.

And finally there will be poetry from students on the English Creative Arts course led by UoB lecturer, Luke Kennard.  We are looking forward to welcoming them all to Headmasters Hair Salon in Cotteridge & hope you will join us.  It’s all free and if you wish to reserve tickets please email artsforumsellyoak@gmail.com