Meet the Board Anita Bhalla
Anita Bhalla spent 26-year with the BBC, from being one of the first regionally based bi-media correspondents to being Head of the BBC’s Public Space Broadcasting. She has also presented Channel 4’s Eastern Eye and other national programmes. Anita is currently Chair of Performances Birmingham Ltd (Town Hall and Symphony Hall), Chair of the Creative City Partnership and recent past Chair of MAC (Midlands Arts Centre). Anita spoke to us about her role on the Board member of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP
” I am Chair of the Creative City Partnership (CCP) and the champion for the Creative Economy on the LEP board. The CCP was set up by GBSLEP to support the creation of jobs and growth in the creative economy. The CCP is a public and private sector partnership with networks of independent creative and cultural businesses.”
CCP’s task has been to:
- Identify, develop and enhance talent by targeting the young, embracing diversity and celebrating all sectors of our community, and in turn to deliver ground breaking content and services to meet all needs of the creative economy
- Support growth, by creating an infrastructure which recognises the unique facets of the sector and securing the improvement of supply chain
- Acknowledge the challenging financial conditions in the current economy and supporting businesses to create sustainable futures by addressing access to finance
- Enhance the profile of our unique cultural assets and celebrate our offer on a national and international scale.
What achievements so far are you most proud of?
“The CCP has achieved a great deal since it was formed, including broker relationships to secure investment by the BBC; profile raising using our strap line of Young, Digital and Diverse; researching and setting up a Film Strategy for GBSLEP; supporting the eco system to address the decline of content production; working with partners to develop major collaborative projects across skills and infrastructure for example Digbeth Digital Studios, Steamhouse, The Space, Dance Hub.
It’s also been driving a greater national focus from agencies and funders by facilitating events, visits and lobbying including holding a series of events for the sector in collaboration with the IPA, Creative England, Skillset, BFI to name but a few.”
What is the next big challenge?
“The creative and digital sectors have been identified as priority areas within the emerging Strategic Economic Plan for the West Midlands Combined Authority. As thinking in this area develops it will be important to consider how the CCP aligns and supports this and how it can work with partners across the three LEP geography.
“Greater Birmingham’s creative industries are now ready to step out of the long shadows cast by London, Manchester and Liverpool’s creative industries; to forge ahead with the city’s home-grown creative talent.
Recent government figures suggest that the West Midlands is experiencing a creative boom with almost 20,000 new roles in the past three years. The number of jobs in creative industries rose from 78,000 in 2011 to 94,000 in 2013 in the West Midlands; an increase of 20% compared with a 3% rise in the overall number of jobs across the region demonstrating the key role the creative industries are playing in creating employment and wealth across the region.
“Creative and digital industries are booming but we still have a lot to do, we have not yet peaked. We are ideally situated to capitalise on the exponential growth within the creative sectors. The region’s youthful demographic with 40% of the population in Birmingham being under 25 – possibly the youngest in Europe, has a young talented workforce ready-made and good to go. The region benefits also from a large British ethnic minority population who, statistically are more likely to be employed in the key IT and computer software industries creating a perfect fit for the technical demands of the creative industries.”
What’s your favourite place in the LEP area?
Why are you involved in the LEP?
“Almost 6 decades ago my parents came to Birmingham as immigrants and set up home here. I saw their hard work and commitment to their family, locality and communities. I think that has rubbed off on me. I am passionate about equality for all and am keen to see all our communities especially young people get opportunities to work, take part in our rich culture arts offering and then in turn make the city and region a great place for future generations.”
What is your favourite piece of music and book?
“To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is still a great book even after the controversy about the Go Set a Watchman,
“I love all kinds of music; classical, world, jazz, rock and pop but if I had to choose one track, sitting in the sun and playing it loudly it would be ‘Take It Easy’ by The Eagles…”