Led by Award winning saxophonist and rapper Soweto Kinch and featuring international rostra of artists, from as far afield as Johannesburg and New York. The Flyover Show returns to Birmingham on June 13th, 2009 to demonstrate the transformative power of art and creativity in unconventional and derelict public space. Featuring notables such as Sway, Ty, Robert Mitchell, Jonzi D and Steel Pulse, to name a few it is a vibrant celebration of British black music, and diversity.
A recent decision by Birmingham City Council to bulldoze the iconic Muhammad Ali Centre in Icknield Street (only yards from the Hockley Flyover) has sparked outrage among the black community who have been trying for years to have the centre re-opened. Once a cultural focal point and visited by Ali himself three times, it is now a burnt out shell, and haven for drug misuse. A local group lead by activist Gerald Nembhard has been given only 8 weeks (until June 5th) to present a viable business model to save the building, and raise enough capital to prevent its demolition.
As Soweto Kinch describes, this years Flyover Show is inextricably tied to the fate of the adjacent Mohammed Ali Centre, “The condition of the Centre in many ways mirrors the disintegration and disrepair of Birmingham’s African Caribbean community: the restored centre would give a permanence to the vision of the show – a place to celebrate, exhibit, and nuture creativity within our communities.”
The second Flyover Show, has an even more pointed vision than in 2008, directing energy towards saving the once dynamic Mohammed Ali Centre, and developing ‘cultural capital.’ The show will shine a torch on high quality creativity produced in Britain’s inner cities, and proving the economic and social case for art even amidst an economic downturn.
Last years show attracted over 1,500 audience members from across the country, and in an area associated with gun/knife crime, gang activity and race riots it was completely incident free. Moreover, local shops and businesses noted the positive effects of bringing people from a diverse backgrounds, from across the country with disposable incomes into the area.
The effects of the recession are particularly barbed in this part of Birmingham. Ladywood (the constituency covering the Flyover) has the highest percentage of families living below the official poverty line at 81% and was the first place in the UK where the claimant count rate of unemployment surpassed 10%, breaching that level in January 2009. Art and creativity can play a decisive role in wealth creation. Commissioning graffiti artists and bicycle makers among others, we will reclaim abandoned materials, create new sellable works, and an immersive visible spectacle.
The Flyover Show posits a radically new way to transform the fortunes of inner city areas, and local economies. To redefine ‘Urban’ culture as far more than gangsta rap and to break out of limiting self-perception in the community. Featuring so many artists at the forefront of British Jazz, Hip Hop, dance and visual culture, it promises to the most exciting day out of the year!