I was lucky to spend much of Sunday afternoon in the company with son and Created-in-Birmingham blogger Pete for the last day of the 2007 Artsfest. What a remarkable festival this proved to be. First and foremost the events are largely outdoors and free. The weather cooperated and the crowds were out. We visited a number of events (one concurrent with Artsfest but not part of it).
Our cameras were used to the full. The finale, a carnival procession, allowed lots of experimentation and there were quite a few rejects!
I came away with a glowing feeling about my home town - Birmingham seems to be doing extremely well at integrating the many ethnic communities that make up its 21st Century population. The separate groups making up the carnival procession were each composed of numerous representatives of color, religion and the like, all appearing as a harmonious whole. I know there are elements in Birmingham society that are not welcome - Muslim extremist bomb makers and BNP neo-Nazis to name but two, and some of the drug war battles leave a lot to be desired in areas like Handsworth and Aston (both areas where my ancestors lived). But this display of downright fun being shared in a non-competitive way was very heart-warming.
So it was with some disappointment that I wearily made my way back to New Street Station for the short journey to the airport. I took one of the Pendolino trains and in the five minutes journey time struck up a conversation with a Rwandan artist who lives in London but desperately wants to move to Birmingham. “I really love this city” he exclaimed. I think I can understand why.