Revitalising life in Colmore

2021 has been another year of uncertainty for our leisure and hospitality businesses, but as always, the industry has come out fighting. Over the past 12 months we have built on the foundations laid in 2020, coming together with the sector and key stakeholders to develop an action plan that could support hospitality. 

While national Government allocated grants to help businesses weather the difficult times, we lobbied with organisations such as Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Birmingham City Council to further develop the support offer. A cash injection here and there may pay a few bills, but this is not a sustainable way to operate a business. 

With restrictions easing at various points this year, our big task was to encourage people back into the city in a safe and measured way. Working at home certainly has it benefits, but many had forgotten what the city has to offer, so we reminded them. In the summer we launched the ambitious Summer in the Square, a programme of outdoor events, running from June until August. Seating for 120 people was placed in Victoria Square, significantly increasing the city centre’s outdoor seating capacity at a time when space in venues was limited due to Covid restrictions. Stylish beach huts were erected in Victoria Square, allowing some of the city’s top venues to sell an assortment of food and drink. A bandstand was also built for live music performances on select weekends. Summer in the Square was well received by both businesses and workers, as it encouraged a sense of community once again, something that you don’t get when working from home. 

With summer out of the way, our sights were then firmly set on Christmas, which saw another first for us  as we launched Christmas in Cathedral Square, in partnership with Birmingham City Council, Birmingham Cathedral and Danter Attractions. Running 17 November-19 December, the festive market took place in the grounds of Birmingham Cathedral and offered a mixture of craft, gift, food and drink stalls, providing a platform for local businesses, producers and craftspeople to showcase their goods in the run-up to Christmas. We once again welcomed some of the District’s top talent, who took over our Christmas chalets to sell their wares. With a helter-skelter, bandstand and a two-storey pop-up bar, built specifically for our event, we welcomed Christmas in with style and saw over 250,0000 people celebrate with us over the festive period. I even had my own time in the spotlight as I joined Councillor Ian Ward and cast members from Birmingham Hippodrome’s pantomime to push the plunger and officially switch on our festive lights. 

Colmore Life has continued to profile the District’s businesses this year and after going digital in 2020 due to Covid, we released our first print edition in quite some time in December 2021. Filled with inspiring interviews and news from across the area, it was great to see the magazine popping up in the District. While our spring edition will be hitting the streets next month, there are copies of the current edition here if you’d like to pick up a copy. Despite the challenges brought about by Covid, we welcomed a number of fantastic new leisure and hospitality businesses who opened their doors for the first time amid restrictions. With so many new places to explore, we released our new Area Guide, allowing you to explore new venues and rediscover old favourites. 

While restrictions have begun to ease and it seems there might be a light at the end of the tunnel, we still have a long way to go to restoring full life in the city. However, I remain positive for the future and look forward to the opportunities 2022 holds for us.

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