Today, Monday 21 December, cultural organisations across the region will showcase a collection of 60 second digital commissions. Marking the Winter Solstice (the shortest day / longest night of the year), It Gets Lighter From Here aims to provide moments of happiness and hope before the days do, quite literally, start to get lighter. To date, the project, the brainchild of The West Midlands Culture Response Unit (WMCRU), has raised £34,050 for commissions, providing vital financial support for the region’s freelancers and community members who have been left unsupported through the pandemic, with a lack of job security and stable, regular income.

47 organisations from a huge cross-section of artists and artforms, have agreed to provide 179 commissions in total, including commitments from BOM, Creative Black Country, Friction Arts, Meadow Arts, Midlands Arts Centre (mac), Severn Arts, University of Worcester, Vivid Projects, and Warwick Arts Centre. Involving a huge cross-section of artists and art-forms, substantial audiences and networks will be reached across the region and beyond, creating a wide celebration of hope, optimism and possibility for the future.

The micro commissions will be searchable on social media through the hashtag #ItGetsLighterFromHere. There will also be a ‘thunderclap’ moment at sunset (around 3.55pm) as all commissioning partners and artists will post content simultaneously, marking the darkest moment of 2020.

James Yarker from Stans Cafe said: “The #ItGetsLighterFromHere one-minute rule will prove a great creative challenge for artists young and old. I can’t wait to see all the inventive solutions they come up with. Audiences will find these snack size art works ‘more-ish’. There will be all sorts of flavours and we can enjoy getting a taste of everything, even those art forms we’ve never experienced before or think we don’t like. It will be for trying everything out because ’something else will be along in a minute’ – literally! 

There is no ‘official programme’ for #ItGetsLighterFromHere, so no one is saying what you can and can’t watch. Experienced and new artists are all in the mix together. It’s an evening for making new discoveries and because it’s all on social media you can share the things you like with all your family, friends and followers.

On the shortest day of the year #ItGetsLighterFromHere will share the brightest West Midlands artistic talent with the world.” 

More information can be found here.


On Monday 21 December, cultural organisations across the region will showcase a collection of 60 second digital commissions. Marking the Winter Solstice, It Gets Lighter From Here aims to provide moments of happiness and hope before the days do, quite literally, start to get lighter.

BOM (Birmingham Open Media) have announced three new opportunities for creative practitioners and creative young people that explore practice in a number of thematic and geographic contexts.

PROJECT: Sarinah, apa kabarmu? (Sarinah, how are you?)

BOM (Birmingham Open Media), Lifepatch and British Council

Deadline for Proposals: Friday 15 December 2015, 5pm

BOM (Birmingham Open Media), Lifepatch (a citizen arts – science – technology organisation in Yogyakarta, Indonesia) and The British Council are working together to foster new female-led practice with creative technology. The project aims to stimulate new creative practice and build relationships between practitioners and organisations in the UK and Indonesia.

As part of our ongoing collaboration, we are currently inviting a UK-based practitioner to undertake a one-month residency with Lifepatch in Indonesia during February or March 2018.

We are inviting proposals from UK-based practitioners whose experience with creative technology might include digital performance, interactive fiction, experimental games, programmable technologies or social enterprise. The residency will be hosted in the Lifepatch house in Yogyakarta.

For this residency, we are looking for a practitioner actively exploring gender through a research-based process, using creative technology. We are particularly interested in proposals addressing ideas around trans and nonbinary cultures, and equality. See the open call brief below for further background.

The residency will give a practitioner time and space to develop their ideas alongside members of the Lifepatch collective, who are currently exploring histories and constructed ideologies of gender within local Indonesian contexts. The practitioner will receive a fee of £5,000 in addition to flights and accommodation, which will be covered separately.

Sarina Open Call_November17_final



BOM Fellows 2018 – 2019: Open Call for Expressions of Interest

Deadline for proposals: Friday 15 December, 5pm

BOM is inviting proposals for new Fellows from April 2018 – March 2019.

With access to a Fellows Incubator programme of tailored professional development, paid opportunities and 24 hour access to production and co-working space, this is an invaluable opportunity for creative practitioners working across art, technology and science.

BOM Fellows are outstanding creative practitioners with a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach. They demonstrate clear commitment to social impact and / or outstanding potential for research impact at the intersection of art, technology and science.

BOM Fellows contribute to a thriving collaborative culture through peer-to-peer support and skills sharing within a creative community. As such, they are expected to contribute at least one day a week to being physically based at BOM (or equivalent), and actively contribute to a positive, supportive and inspiring ecology.

In early 2018, BOM will be undergoing a major building refurbishment to upgrade and extend our gallery, café, co-working and studio spaces. We’ll be re-launching as an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation in April 2018, ready to welcome a new cohort of Fellows, and continuing major partnerships including British Council South East Asia and the University of Birmingham.

This is an incredibly exciting time to be working with BOM, and we’re looking for high quality proposals to build on our existing Fellows community and support experimental and impactful new practice.

Download the open call brief below, which has details on what we’re looking for, and how to apply.

BOM Fellows 2018-19 EOI Call



BOM+ is aimed at young people who believe in the power of art and radical practice

Join us and MAKE CHANGE.


Aged between 16 and 24? Interested in any of the above? BOM+ is for you!

Next open meeting to recruit new members – Saturday 9th December, 1pm (Mince pies included!)

Our next project is making music with your Genetic make up (DNA).Travel costs reimbursed to get to and from meetings & food included.

To register your interest or for more info, email

Regular meetings at our Birmingham City Centre space
Opportunities to curate, make art work, collaborate with artists, scientists & technologists
Meet new people
Design and produce events and exhibitions with a budget
Gain experience and skills
Opportunity to complete an Arts Award

Read more

BOM announce three new opportunities: Indonesia Residency, BOM Fellows and BOM+. All deadlines are in December.

Lucy McLauchlan, Birmingham Bt Pass showing at Centrala Art Gallery 8 July. Image credit Matt Watkins.

New Art West Midlands’ director Craig Ashley reflects on yesterday’s announcement from Arts Council England about investment to the region’s visual arts organisations through their National Portfolio for 2018-22.

Lucy McLauchlan, Birmingham By Pass showing at Centrala until 8 July. Image credit Matt Watkins.

Arts Council England’s National Portfolio for 2018-2022 will include thirteen West Midlands’ Visual Arts organisations, up from the current number of seven. This almost doubling of the visual arts contingent is great news for the region, and the sector is strengthened further through the inclusion of more organisations working under the categories of Museums and Combined Arts where there is increasing work in the widening realm of visual arts, and exploration of the innovative spaces between art forms.

With the exception of Birmingham’s The Drum, which closed last year due to a number of challenges and was consequently not in the running for this next round of funding, the current cohort of West Midlands-based National Portfolio Organisations working across Museums, Visual and Combined Arts remains unchanged and will continue to receive investment.

This is an active and positive endorsement of the great work being done in the region, and Arts Council’s decision provides a degree of certainty in uncertain times. Investment from other sources of income must continue to be a priority over the next four years, and the impact of this stabilising fund will allow the time to further develop and grow the opportunities for a wider and more diverse funding mix.

It is important of course that, within the context of some much needed good news for the arts, there is a balanced view. Where other areas of public funding for culture have been consistently cut in recent years, particularly the investment from our challenged local authorities, the National Portfolio money awarded through Arts Council demonstrates the absolute necessity of public money to secure and strengthen our creative output.

As recognised by the Creative Industries Federation, public money sits at the foundation of our £84b-a-year-and-growing creative industries sector, providing essential support at the start of careers and initiatives that go on to bring great success to Britain. Furthermore, anticipating the gap left by the withdrawal of EU funds beyond 2019 – subject of course to the ongoing Brexit negotiations – how do we shore-up and sustain future public investment in the arts? Arts Council England cannot do it alone, and a wider valuing of the arts in society must be a collective concern that we need to address together, within and beyond the visual arts.

The important and integral partnerships between our National Portfolio Organisations and others, both within and beyond the Creative Industries, will help to strengthen a platform for the visual arts over the coming years, and provide a firmer base to build upon for the future. From artists to arts organisations to educators and business, the benefit of the National Portfolio investment is channelled through the relatively few to the many.

So now is definitely a time to celebrate the achievement of those organisations and their supporters and partners that have strived to creative something crucial, critical and valuable. The National Portfolio status is something to be proud of, and an indicator of the valuable contribution organisations make as instigators, protectors, mediators, collaborators, risk-takers and trailblazers.

The inclusion of more organisations in the National Portfolio reflects the region’s growing confidence and the breadth of the work we do. Distinctively here in the West Midlands, the support for the smaller-scale, diverse, innovative and artist-led outfits bolsters the resilience of the visual arts ecology.

The collective strength of Birmingham’s Eastside organisations demonstrates the importance of working together to mutually support. Joining Eastside Projects in the National Portfolio are Centrala, Grand Union and Vivid Projects, all based in the Minerva Works complex in Digbeth, alongside Friction Arts at The Edge on Cheapside. This critical mass is a model that New Art West Midlands is keen to support elsewhere in the region, to ensure sustainability alongside critical success.

Our museums continue to get the support they desperately need and deserve, with Birmingham Museums Trust and The New Art Gallery Walsall receiving continued investment in the face of challenges with their respective local authority funding. Encouragingly, Wolverhampton Art Gallery receives an uplift from 2018 and they are joined in the National Portfolio by Culture Coventry (The Herbert Art Gallery) and Compton Verney, both of whom become regularly funded through Arts Council for the first time.

The region’s reputation for distinctive festivals shines through the Portfolio, with BE Festival and Fierce now joined by Flatpack, Shout, Capsule’s Supersonic Festival, and the Stoke on Trent-based British Ceramics Biennial. And in terms of innovation, BOM and Hereford-based Rural Media are supported to continue their leading roles in developing the territory within the scientific and digital realms. Wolverhampton’s Newhampton Arts Centre adds to the region’s complement of multi artform venues, widening the cultural offer in the Black Country.

These decisions demonstrate Art Council’s commitment to diversifying the National Portfolio, in terms of practice and geography as well as the protected characteristics including disability, ethnicity, gender and sexuality. Among the existing National Portfolio, the Shropshire-based Disability Arts organisation DASH has received a significant uplift in their regular funding to expand their partnership work to commission disabled artists. DASH’s director Mike Layward commented:

“[This] is not only great news for the organisation as it secures our work across England for the next 4 years, but it’s also great news for the disabled artists we work with. The uplift will allow us to develop a new area of work with disabled children and young people who will be the disabled artists of tomorrow.”

New Art West Midlands’ director Craig Ashley reflects on yesterday’s announcement from Arts Council England about investment to the region’s visual arts organisations through their National Portfolio for 2018-22.

Image credit: BOM



It’s a busy time for BOM (Birmingham Open Media) with major projects across the globe, and much closer to home. Annabel Clarke met with Louise Latter, Head of Programme to find out about their ongoing work with the British Council in Indonesia, as well as their future plans for the space.


Image credit: BOM


Last year BOM were approached by the British Council who wanted to initiate some work around women and technology in Indonesia. There are currently many barriers for women to get into the creative industries, and BOM were approached to help sustain and support the practice of women in the Republic.

BOM’s Director Karen Newman and Louise were invited to Indonesia for ten days in November 2016. During this time they attended the V&A’s Digital Design Weekend in Jakarta. There they handed out postcards to men and women asking questions such as – What it is like to be a woman in Indonesia? What barriers are there for women wanting to enter the creative industries? As well as general questions on culture, society and politics.

They met with Lifepatch, a citizen initiative in art, science and technology which has members in several cities across Indonesia. At the time they were working on a project along the river in Yogyakarta with local communities undertaking DIY bio experiments to check the safety of the water. The river is the lifeblood of the region, but unfortunately is also used for direct sewage disposal in an area with poor sanitary provision.

Over the last two months, three female Lifepatch members have been in Birmingham on a research residency. All are producers creating work within their communities. During their time in the UK, BOM have introduced the trio to practitioners based on their interests, such as performance artist Sergina whose practice investigates cross-dressing and drag. Whilst in Indonesia Karen and Louise learnt that in some areas there is a common belief of there being five genders, although this idea has been quashed over the years due to the growth of Christianity and Islam.

Image credit: BOM

Louise said “We were blown away by our trip to Indonesia as well as the two months we have spent with Al, Mara and Sita. We can’t wait to get started with our collaborative projects. The scope of complex and fascinating social and cultural areas of interest mean we have extremely fertile ground to work with.”

The producers will return to Indonesia shortly with BOM supporting their programme. Their upcoming projects will look into queer performance as well as tackling Islamaphobia through art and technology. Over the next five years BOM hope to offer West Midlands based artists the opportunity to visit and support the projects in Indonesia as part of their British Council funding.

Image credit: Sergina

Later this year, BOM itself will be transformed with building works that will benefit the staff, Fellows and visitors. All three floors will be made accessible and new rooms opened up.

Susan Kruse, Gallery Supervisor is currently undertaking research into making the space more accessible to autistic people. An autistic artist herself, she is working directly with the space’s architect Alessandro Columbano of Birmingham City University to design the refurbishment.

More information about BOM their upcoming programme can be found here:


Annabel Clarke met with Louise Latter, Head of Programme at BOM to find out about their ongoing work with the British Council in Indonesia, as well as their future plans for the space.