Midlands Arts Centre Chair appointed as Creative City Champion
The Board of the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) has appointed Anita Bhalla OBE, broadcaster and Chair of the Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), to chair the Creative City partnership.
The Birmingham Creative City initiative was launched in October 2011 and is aimed at securing investment for cultural and creative activities in the city, recognising the importance these sectors play in economic development.
A Creative City Partnership has been set up as a sub-group of the GBSLEP and a memorandum of understanding signed by 11 partners involved in the project including the GBSLEP, Birmingham City Council, Creative England, BBC, Arts Council England, Birmingham City University and the University of Birmingham.
Anita Bhalla, who holds a range of different posts in the education and creative sectors in addition to her role as Editor of Public Space Broadcasting at the BBC, will be responsible for working with the Creative City Partnership and ensuring the economic potential of the sector is achieved.
Anita said: “The link between the creative and cultural sectors and economic development is well acknowledged and the Creative City Partnership will play a vital role in ensuring these links are exploited.
“Not only do creative businesses bring jobs and wealth to the city, but the Greater Birmingham cultural offer is a key draw that encourages investment.
“We are fortunate in Birmingham to have a world-class symphony orchestra and ballet company, one of the world’s best concert halls and one of the oldest, and the UK’s busiest, theatre. These strengths need to be built upon.
“I see my role as creating an effective link between the GBSLEP Board and the Creative City Partnership, ensuring culture and creativity are properly integrated into the planning, investment and skills elements of the growth strategy for Greater Birmingham and Solihull.”
Andy Street, GBSLEP Chair, said: “The 38,000 jobs in the creative industries are hugely important to the economy of the LEP while the cultural offer also plays a huge part in the work of partners to attract inward investment.
“Anita is an excellent person for this role, given her vast experience in broadcasting and the many posts she has held at prestigious organisations like the Midlands Arts Centre and the Symphony Hall and Town Hall.
“She has the energy and contacts to ensure we make a success of Birmingham Creative City and we look forward to working with her in her new role as Champion for this initiative.”
Anita Bhalla OBE
Anita is currently Editor Public Space Broadcasting for the BBC. Her media career has been varied. From presenting a local radio programme in Birmingham she went on to present Channel 4’s Eastern Eye and other national programmes.
At the BBC she developed the Asian Network in the West Midlands (this is now a national digital service). Her next move was to BBC Television News where she became one of the first regionally based bi-media correspondents when she was appointed as the Community Affairs Correspondent for Midlands. During this time she produced several documentaries for network television and national radio as well as daily news reports.
She went on to become Social Affairs and Education Correspondent and for a while took on the role of Editor Newsgathering and Managing Editor of one of the regions local radio stations. She was President of Circom a European wide group of public service broadcasters.
She trained as a teacher but has had a very varied career since. She has worked as a Community Relations Officer in Leicester, a Community Worker with the Asian Resource Centre in Handsworth, Birmingham, where she set up and ran one of the first hostels for Asian Women, as well as dealing with wider issues around welfare and social care. She has also worked as a lecturer teaching language and employment skills to Industrial workers in the Midlands, alongside training their mangers in effective communications.
Anita has won several awards including the CRE’s Race in the Media Award when she won the national Television News Award and has been short-listed twice since for the same award. In 2000 she won the Impact Magazines Windrush Award as the Broadcaster of the Year and in 2009 was awarded an OBE for her services to Broadcasting and Communities.
Throughout her life Anita has maintained a strong commitment to public service and her portfolio in this area ranges from being a member of the Independent Commission on Social Justice to the Home Secretary’s representative to appoint community members of the West Midlands Police, and chair of Governors of Grestone Junior and Infant School, Governor of Birmingham City University, Chancellor of the Children’s University being some of them.
Her interest in the Arts includes being chair of the Midlands Arts Centre, a project which has completed a £15.8 million redevelopment under her tenure. She is also Trustee of the Symphony Hall and Town Hall in Birmingham. In the past she has been a member of the Culture West Midlands (DCMS Regional Cultural Consortium) and Chair of the Birmingham Creative Birmingham Partnership Board.
She was awarded an OBE in 2009 for her services to Broadcasting and Communities.