The Birmingham 2022 Cultural Festival has received a £1 million funding award from Spirit of 2012, the London 2012 legacy charity, to enable 300 young people from across the West Midlands to co-create a series of major dance performances, and take centre stage at the Commonwealth Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
The project is a unique collaboration between Birmingham 2022, Arts Connect and the Dance Development Leaders Group (DDLG), a dedicated network of 70+ dance organisations across the West Midlands that are passionate about developing dance participation.
The mass participation project – entitled Critical Mass – will form a new dance collective of disabled and non-disabled young people to show how genuine inclusion can be achieved in mega-events such as the Commonwealth Games.
At least one-third of the 300 participants will be disabled people, and 40% will come from an Asian, black or minority ethnic background, reflecting the diversity of Birmingham and the West Midlands’ young population.
Critical Mass will perform at the Birmingham 2022 Opening and Closing Ceremonies, as well as the opening show of the Birmingham 2022 Cultural Festival in March 2022, the Birmingham International Dance Festival in June 2022, Welcome Ceremonies for athletes arriving for the Games in July 2022, and at Live Sites around the city during the Games.
The project will engage with SEN schools and colleges, community arts groups, youth clubs, job centres, care leaver referral teams and refugee and asylum seeker advice centres to ensure young people from underrepresented backgrounds are given an opportunity to take part.
Debbie Jardine, CEO of DanceXchange, said:
“Critical Mass is setting an ambitious benchmark for what can be achieved through innovative participation approaches with young people at the heart. DanceXchange is proud to be leading this hugely significant initiative in partnership with Arts Connect and the Dance Development Leaders Group; an aspirational collective of dance participation professionals from across the West Midlands, who are all committed to addressing inequality, challenging perceptions of disability and empowering young people, using the transformational power of dance to create a lasting social legacy for the region.”