Led by multi-award winning jazz musician and MC Soweto Kinch, The Hockley Flyover Project is an ambitious day-long street festival that brings world class jazz, hip hop, poetry, dance and theatre to a neglected corner of Birmingham. Also featuring notables from across the country such as Bashy, TY, Eska Mtungwazi, Jonzi D and Zena Edwards, it will be a pertinent national statement about ‘Urban’ art.
Once a thriving cultural centre, the Hockley area is now renowned for its rundown buildings and empty, boarded up retail units and small warehouses. In this bold artistic statement Kinch aims to reclaim part of the soul of the city.
At its cultural high point the area was a focal point for cultural activity, and groups such as Steel Pulse gave global musical cache to Birmingham’s inner city areas. The city has always had a consistently strong Jazz tradition with veteran sax players such as Andy Hamilton and Papa Sax. Today however, as Soweto Kinch describes, “My area only ever receives negative press for gun crime and unemployment; I want to use our art to inspire and challenge notions of privilege”.
In an unprecedented move to use culture to inspire and energize his neighbourhood, Kinch will present traditional Jazz music from local legends, alongside contemporary UK music luminaries such as TY, Bashy and Eska. With the full support of the local community, residence association and local council, the event is set to be a family day of music, festivities and fun for all ages.
The project is the first of its kind to be delivered by Soweto Kinch Productions, Nu Century Arts and a newly formed consortium of black arts groups called CISC.
It will make a bold statement on the perceived place for ‘high art’, liberating creativity and exhibition from the sole confines of traditional spaces. And it will resonate profoundly with urban communities around the UK, demonstrating what is possible and restoring pride, social possibility and creative opportunity.
Free family event @ the Hockley Flyover Birmingham.
Notes: The nearby Muhammad Ali Centre is a heap of rubble in the supposedly regenerated Soho area of the City. In 1977 councillor James Hunte invited Muhammad Ali to Birmingham on several occasions when the centre was opened but now James has returned to the Caribbean and the centre is in ruins.
Whereas the adjacent Jewellery Quarter receives regeneration subsidies to make it more desirable to young professionals, housing and amenities for low income families remain neglected and underfunded.
The two parliamentary constituencies with the highest unemployment rates in the UK – Ladywood and Sparkbrook and Small Heath – are both in inner-city Birmingham.
Soweto Kinch Productions – Soweto Kinch Productions seeks to raise the profile of alternative art forms such as Jazz, poetry, and underground hip-hop, within urban communities. Secondly, it is committed to developing a distinct but not exclusive black voice across British arts. It seeks to develop cultural capital outside of the mainstream and provide credible alternatives. With a wide range of music, theatre and educational activities it celebrates the artistic contributions made by Britain’s diverse communities. Furthermore it draws links between underground hip-hop, classical music and jazz, challenging assumptions about class, race and ability in the process.
The company will provide a framework not only for Soweto Kinch its lead artist but also for kindred composers, writers and artists who need to gain national/international recognition and develop the long term sustainability of their work.
Nu Century Arts – CISC Nu Century Arts is dedicated to the development and promotion of performing arts in the African-Caribbean community. Based in Birmingham, UK the organisation embraces an interdisciplinary approach to arts and education. The company’s work encompasses a professional theatre group, organising a regular livemusic event ‘The Live Box’, literature in the shape of ‘Wired Up’ magazine and a broad range of education work, from jazz workshops, to youth theatre and group trips as far a field as South Africa and the United States.