The festival grew out of a spirit of exchange prevalent in Birmingham’s arts scene in 2010. Inspired by positive experiences touring to European festivals, Isla Aguilar, Miguel Oyarzun and Mike Tweddle were met with great enthusiasm to the idea of a new arts festival in Birmingham and soon fleshed out a plan on the back of a napkin at a Birmingham curry house. And so BE FESTIVAL was born.
BE FESTIVAL (shortened from Birmingham European Festival) takes place annually in June at The Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Each year a daring and innovative programme of boundary pushing theatre, dance, comedy, circus, music, visual and performing arts takes place turning the theatre’s rarely seen backstages into a den of creativity, discovery and exchange where diverse cultures are celebrated.
The BE ethos is firmly grounded in a sense of community and democracy. The festival wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the generosity of our hosts who open their doors to visiting artists and the many volunteers who become the backbone of BE leading up to and during the festival.
The youth performance programme, BE NEXT engages and empowers young Birmingham based artists performing a new piece of work on the last night of each festival. Many of young people speak English as a second language reflecting the diversity of the city and the international community of the festival. Since 2013 the project has expanded beyond the week of the festival and we have worked with different partners to provide performance opportunities and host the workshops throughout the year. BE FESTIVAL has a touring wing taking “The Best of BE” around the UK and Spain and continues to grow its wings.