Student Guide

As part of the Student Birmingham campaign, Marketing Birmingham and Birmingham City Council have collaborated with the city's five universities to launch a new student guide. 'Birmingham: Your life starts here' is published by Lonely Planet and available free for young people to encourage them to study and build their careers in the city. Students are able to request the guide here.

The Student Birmingham website provides a forum for students to give their views of study in the city to include videos, gallery and top tips.

Skills Active

SkillsActive is the sector skills council for the active leisure and learning industry. It takes the lead from employers and is a government-backed organisation that aims to link employers with training providers, policy makers and individuals, to ensure that the importance of skills needs are communicated and addressed, and that workforce development policies relate directly to active leisure and learning sector needs. The website provides a range of resources such as research reports which include Working in Fitness 2009, teacher resources, upcoming events and online issue of the SkillsActive publication, ActiveInsight magazine.

A clip showing the importance of training and skills in the sport
and recreation sector.

City to Hold 'Eggstravaganzas' for Children

March 19, 2010 Richmond’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities will hold two free spring “Eggstravaganzas” for area children featuring egg hunts with a total of more than 30,000 candy-filled eggs. The first will be held Saturday, March 20, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Pine Camp Arts and Community Center, located at 4901 Old Brood Rd. The second will be held Saturday, March 27,

British Tourism Week

British Tourism Week takes place from 15 to 21 March with the official launch in Newport, Wales. One of the flagship events of the week prior to the launch, was the first-ever illumination of Hadrian's Wall on Saturday. Thousands of visitors were drawn to the site to watch 500 beacons lighting up the whole length of the wall, manned by 1200 volunteers more...

Poem: Commuters


Cormorants each morning
awkwardly assume position
on this tongue of pile and lathes.
Marching past, we seem to share
a momentary recognition
of their surprise, their shrug
at our rhythmic passage
across the bridge. They hang
from imaginary coat hangers,
wings out, beaks up, eyes bright.
They are unoiled, unsleeked.
The man in front breaks step.
He stops to look. These cormorants
is how he might possibly put it.
Already, perhaps, that’s reading
too much into it. From one end
of the long straight harbour
the sunlight is all reflection
to the other. It’s spring.
The cormorants gorge on fish.
One day soon they’ll go
and no one will stop to look
for another season.

Tom Phillips

Department Offers Guided Walks

The department will continue offering its guided walks on the Slave Trail on Saturdays in March and has added a new walk in the James River Park to see the growing nesting colony of Great Blue Herons. The guided walks along the Slave Trail will be offered every Saturday in March at 2 p.m. These are emotional walks that originate at the docks at Ancarrow’s Landing and cross the river to

Tourism Insights

Recent articles include:
  • Case Study : Impact of sports infrastructure investment on visitor numbers to Cardiff
  • What is the role of a National Tourist Board in 2009?
  • Britain's coaches : partnership and passengers
  • The benefits of knowledge management for destinations
  • Marinas : the tourism aspect of leisure boating
  • The Chinese outbound travel market
  • Content management for tourism websites
  • Public art and regeneration
  • Screen tourism towards 2012
  • Casinos : gambling on regeneration
  • Holiday camps revisited

ABTA Travel Trends Report 2010

Learn more about 'glamping', 'chadventure' as well as 'voluntourism' - the new buzz words in tourism according to this new report. It gives a snapshot of travel trends for the coming year, covering a number of popular destinations. Some of the contents include Hotspots for 2010, Top Short Haul Destinations and Top Long Haul Destinations.

On literature festivals

I might well be reading too much into this but at the last literature festival I went to I got a serious ticking off. “Excuse me! You can’t stand there! You’re in the way of celebrities!”
Alas, between me and the shelves of books that I wanted to look at there was Harry Hill’s glistening head, 200 punters clutching his ‘Ulysses’-rivalling tome ‘Harry Hill’s TV Burp’ and an irate assistant from a certain high street bookshop that’s put numerous independents out of business and now only sells what an HQ marketing twonk decides will shift units from the 3-4-2 tables. My crime, it seems, was wanting to buy some books: my mistake was that ‘literature’ might involve something a tad more interesting than Cherie Blair’s excruciating confessional.
To be honest, it’s partly my fault. In the 80s, when I was a student and a university could still make front-page news if one of its junior lecturers got outed as a structuralist (i.e. they wore a leather jacket, used words like ‘deconstruction’ and quoted French people), ‘literature’ meant something quite specific: it was books by dead white men that took more than 20 minutes to read. Nobody went into bookshops unless they had to and the library was the last redoubt of the scoundrel (who usually wore an Oxfam corduroy jacket). This was clearly wrong, and so anyone with more than half a brain cell or something other than a career in management consultancy in mind started badgering English departments from Inverness to Brighton to let students write essays about books by people who were alive, weren’t necessarily white and were quite often female. It all seemed terribly right-on and a much-needed blow for cultural democracy.
What nobody counted on, of course, was that, thanks to this campaign for what lefties used to call ‘pluralism’, the girth of this newly democratic idea of ‘literature’ would slowly and steadily expand to the point at which you could shove anything at all inside its saggy waistband. That TV tie-ins (mostly produced by white middle-class folk) would shoulder-charges books that are actually worth reading off the bookshop shelves; that so-called literature festivals would become nothing but junkets for momentary celebrities and journalists stapling together their daily spew into 80,000-word miscellanies; and that, were it not for Amazon, it would be almost impossible to buy anything book-shaped that wasn’t written by Michael Palin, JK Rowling or Gordon Ramsay.
And the reason for this descent into scarcely comprehensible prose and books with more pictures (or recipes or downhome philosophy) than sense? Well, not some kind of universal dumbing down certainly. Rather it’s due to the discovery by corporate booksellers, probably in the early 90s, that the stuff they were accustomed to flog as trash in ‘dump bins’ (say, whatever happened to the 99p dump bin?) could be relocated to tables, branded ‘bestsellers’ and sold for £19.99 a time - with a considerably bigger profit. As in eastern Europe, the coming of democracy turned out to be an open invitation for unchecked capitalism to fuck things up. Like an old East Berliner suffering from ostalgie, you can’t help but walk through a bookshop or a literature festival now without feeling that something essential’s been lost.
So what to do? Well, one suggestion I’d make (other than only buying books from charity shops and the internet on the strength of what your mates have told you) is to go to literature festivals and ask every line-up of so-called ‘authors’ (the Hills and Blairs and Ramsays of this world) some rudimentary technical questions - the kind of thing that even GCSE classes in creative writing dismiss before they start churning out their duplicate Carver short stories - and see how they get on. What, for example, is Harry Hill’s relationship with his narratorial voice? And how has Cherie Blair approached the problem of self-authentication inherent in post-modernist life-writing? The telling thing, of course, is that these semi-literate dorks will try to answer your questions. The genuine writers will simply tell you to sling your hook.

This was originally published in Venue magazine, February 2010

Local News

Birmingham has made the shortlist for the UK's first City of Culture 2013 bid, along with Sheffield, Norwich and Londonderry. The last stage of the bidding process now begins with final bids to be submitted to DCMS at the end of May. The winning city will be announced during the summer. Members of the public are being encouraged to give their views on culture at the Big Blank Canvas website. Liverpool was the European City of Culture in 2008; here are some key facts and statistics following a successful year for the city.

The Staffordshire Hoard has attracted thousands of visitors since going on display so it's been a great boost for tourism in the West Midlands. Donations are still coming in in the hope of keeping the find in the area. If the campaign to save the Hoard is successful, it'll go on show in Birmingham as one of the proposed highlights of the UK City of Culture Bid Programme of events in 2013 more...

Tourism Attractions booklet launched

The Northern Warwickshire Tourism Association (NWTA) has recently launched a new tourism booklet, 'Visit North Warwickshire'. NWTA is a group of businesses, from small bed and breakfasts to large hotels, who are working together to promote the area. The free booklet highlights accommodation, restaurants and places to visit. It's not available online yet but a print copy can be requested, find out more...

Will the Paranormal Show Up?

March 2, 2010If you are interested in the paranormal, you may want to be at the Pump House on Saturday, March 6, between 10:30 a.m. and noon. That's when Robert Bess and his team from the Foundation for Paranormal Research will attempt to capture and contain ghosts and other "foreign entities" at the Pump House. Bess will discuss his theories and explain his equipment. He has advised the