Cultural opportunities and projects

Small is Beautiful

On 1 and 2 February The Core played host to the third round of Small is Beautiful. Small is Beautiful is our flagship micro-commissioning programme which gives small grants to artists to try out new ideas and collaborations.

This year 32 artists took part in 27 commissions which included visual arts, dance, theatre and music.

Past projects

Here is a snap shot of some of the projects carried out over the last two years.

Anthem stage show

In July 2022 we welcomed Anthem Anthem Revolution to Mell Square and Lavender Hall Park in Berkswell.

Created by Australian puppetry company Terrapin, Anthem Anthem Revolution gave participants the opportunity to hear a new national anthem for Australia written by children from Tasmania by winning points against a table tennis playing robot!

The project was supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Arts Council England, Culture Solihull and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

In July 2022 Cultural Services delivered Schools Festival Days as part of the Bring the Power Festival.

360 children from primary schools in Chelmsley Wood took part in a day of workshops at Spotlight Dance studios.

Working with dancer Sam Franks, poet Claire Jones, Singer Faye Bromley and the Birmingham Rep children worked hard preparing performances to showcase to Perry the Bull at the end of the day.

Commonwealth games mascot

During the Summer of 2022 Cultural Services delivered a range of cultural programmes in celebration of the Commonwealth Games.

As part of a month cultural festival Solihull showcased cultural heritage, creative talent, diversity and community action through a borough wide programme during July and August. The programme shone a light the boroughs assets and provided an opportunity for people  to come and connect or reconnect with the local centres, outdoor space and community buildings through a blended programme of arts heritage and creative family focused fun. 

Here’s a snap shot of the outputs from the teams work

Festival 36 Actor

Festival 36 will celebrate Shakespeare’s first folio coming to Solihull!

We will be sending Bards into schools, shopping centres and lot of unexpected locations across the Borough, publishing a limited collection of 36 brand new sonnets for Solihull written by local people, hosting a performance of the Reduced Works of Shakespeare and screening National Theatre Live performances of Othello and Much Ado About Nothing at The Core, celebrating with craft activities and story times across libraries, an exhibition at The Core and of course a chance to view the first folio on Friday 2 July.  

The first folio was put together after Shakespeare’s death by his closest friends and brings together his works for the first time. As it wasn’t customary to print plays in Jacobean England, without the first folio we would have lost over 18 of Shakespeare’s plays including Twelfth Night and Julius Caesar. The Core is lucky to have been picked as a venue for ‘Everything to Everyone’ which will see the library of Birmingham’s copy of Shakespeare’s first folio tour to 8 venues across the Midlands. Viewing is limited as the book can only be exposed to light for five hours at a time so booking on The Core website is essential.

For more information please download our Festival 36 brochure.

Leader of Solihull with keys of the city

For ten last summer, thousands of people were able to award someone the Key to the City - a ceremonial honour - but also a physical Yale key that enabled the recipient to explore private and intriguing places and spaces around the city that they might not have happened on before.

Touchwood and the Robin Hood Cemetery both took part in this exciting project with a day of key ceremonies taking place at The Core.

The project was conceived by Paul Ramirez and delivered by Fierce as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival.

Goddess ensemble stage show

Cultural Services commissioned a brand new community musical to be performed by and to the people of Solihull as the Queens Baton Relay reached it’s climax in Jubilee Gardens.

Written by Kevin Feegan with a score written by local musician Natalie Roe, On Yer Bike was directed by Parrabbola Theatre company, with Musical Direction by Chris Passey and celebrated Solihull’s links with the bicycle.

Shinning a light on the life of Tommy Godwin, the cyclist’s memorial in Meriden and Solihull’s rich history On Yer Bike was performed by a cast of twenty local people.

Pandemic loops screening

Post pandemic, Cultural Services worked with Parrabbola Community Theatre Company to train community story collectors, to collect stories from their communities of the pandemic. Over eighty interviews were carried out across the Borough telling stories, of less, identity, sadness, mundanity and at times humour and hope.  An artist commission was put out, with artists across the country entering proposal for how they would respond to the stories.

The selected artist for the commission was Louis Price a West Midlands based artist who created a sound and video installation in direct response to this material. The work reflected on the looping, stretching, and tightening of time during the pandemic, and the unifying impact that we all felt trying to overcome this and return to normal. Using the audio recordings of the residents in the piece itself, Pandemic Loops brought the voices together with newly filmed visual material to give the viewer the chance to reflect on their own perception of time spent during lockdown.

The piece was presented in an empty shop unit in Mell Square with video footage projected on canvas and ricocheting off the mirrored walls, accompanied by an hour-long soundscape which filled the space. The piece ran for 17 days with access from 10am to 4pm daily. A ten-minute online piece has now been developed to ensure a lasting legacy, which is more easily accessible.

The piece received positive responses from the story tellers and collectors, funders, and general public. The piece was also picked up by Radio WM who interview the artist, invigilators, story tellers and collectors on their experiences of the project. 

Small is Beautiful is a micro commissioning programme that aims to give artists small grants to try out a new idea. Twenty micro-commissions of £500 each were awarded to artist from across the West Midlands.

A broad commissioning brief was widely circulated which offered early and mid-career artists the opportunity to try out a new idea.  In some cases this supported artist to do some R&D for larger funding bids, to collaborate with a new partner or try something in a new arts form or style.

Small is Beautiful came together into a celebration event in January 2022 which allowed artist to share their work both with one another and the general public.

View the Small is Beautiful 2022 programme

Examples of submissions included

  • Claire Jones - actor wishing to experiment with spoken word and poetry, used the micro-grant to develop spoken word material which was performed at The Core Theatre. Claire has since developed further poetry and spoken word performances
  • Natalie Roe - young composer Natalie Roe a third-year student at the Welsh College of Music from a traditional composition background experimented with electronic music. Working with Natalie developed a supportive relationship which saw Natalie become the composer for ‘On Yer Bike’ the community musical commissioned to celebrate the QBR in Solihull
  • Richard Rudge - graphic artist Richard experimented with large scale formats for telling stories and expressing concepts working on AO as opposed to A4 and A5, examining the freedoms and constraints of scaling up work
Dancer on sofa

On Thursday 9 February, The Core played host to a series of micro-commissions entitled Small is Beautiful. Micro-commissions give artists the opportunity to try out new ideas, ways of working, develop partnerships and extend their practice. Small is Beautiful provides Solihull based artists a testbed and platform to experiment and explore. 

Over eighty applications were received from artist of which eighteen were selected. Work was selected which covers all art forms, explores a wide range of topics and themes, and ranged from the playful to the serious.

The final element of the Small is Beautiful programme, was the audience, their response and ideas about the work helped artists continue to refine and develop their work and practice.

A key element of the work of Cultural Services is how we support and develop the Cultural and Creative Industries in Solihull. Small is Beautiful is a key element of this work encouraging experimentation and collaboration.

In May we will have the next iteration of Small is Beautiful, entitled Short is Beautiful. Short is Beautiful will be a new film festival, supporting film and content creators living and working in the Borough.

Our Small is beautiful artists are:

Dancers on stage
  • Anna Nierobisz
  • Calico Dance
  • Daisy
  • Daya Bhatti
  • Gabriela Songui
  • Ilona Alymari
  • ITZATNA Arts
  • Jeremy Clay
  • Joanne Tremarco
  • Karoline Rerrie
  • Katie Holtom
  • Keisha Grant
  • Lisa Franklin
  • Matt Prentice
  • Rachel Sambrooks
  • Richard Rudge
  • Sarah Rabone
  • Shannel James

The full programme can be downloaded here.

Student protesters in Shirley

Working with the Tourism and Inward investment, Parrabbola and Solihull College and University Centre a sustainable fashion show was staged in Shirley High Street. Celebrating Shirley’s charity shops whilst developing a narrative around sustainability and fast fashion in the wake of COP26.

Five courses from the college began working on the project with Fine Art students upcycling clothes from charity shops, Graphic Design students working on placards and banners and Performing Arts students modelled the clothing and created scenes for performances. Photography students documented the creative process and the final events, whilst media students recorded, filmed, and edited the performances.

Two events were staged one on a Friday evening and one on a Saturday morning to maximise footfall. Pedal bikes were used to power the staging, lighting, and sound, giving both an interactive and further sustainable element to the programme.

Painted cable boxes in Shirley

Flowers are blooming on Shirley high street! This project in conjunction with Inward Investment and Shirley businesses was an initiative to develop the public realm and increase local pride.

Pickle Illustration, designed and painted 6 wildflower inspired illustrated utility boxes down the main Stratford Road high street in Shirley. The 6 unloved utility boxes made for great canvases for illustration and injected a healthy dose of colour to the high street.

A minibeast is hiding among each design, which created a trail for children

You can find more information about the project and a short video at

Tappin' In Dancers

Tappin’ In was a mass participation tap dancing and storytelling extravaganza.

Eight groups from across the West Midlands took part in tap dancing and drama workshops before performing at Brindley Place in a large-scale dance performance as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival.

Our Chelmsley Wood tappers from POW CIC also performed their work in a celebration event at The Core alongside Sing Solihull.

Welcoming Windows art

Welcoming Windows was a participatory arts programme which took place in four high rise blocks across North Solihull.

Solihull Community Housing residents worked with artist Nicky Bovis-Coulter to design window decals to welcome the Commonwealth Games to the borough. The work was later celebrated with an exhibition in Chelmsley Wood Library.

Street entertainment in Solihull Town Centre

We welcome enquiries from street entertainers who would like to perform in Solihull Town Centre.

You can register and book a slot at our street entertainment page.