Media and Place: Mapping Birmingham audiences as community

Date & Time:

26th October, 16:00


C588 (5th floor Curzon B) and online.


Dr Siobhán Stevenson, Ian Francis and Chris Maher discuss researching local histories and media audiences in Birmingham.

This is a hybrid event. To participate online, please register at this link. To participate in person, please register at this link.

Dr Siobhán Stevenson (Oral History Consultant) Re-imagining Historical Narratives using word of mouth

Oral History has been recognised as a vital method in democratising history, adding bottom-up perspectives, and enabling interrogation of key narratives constructed in the absence of key participants (Portelli, 2019). In more recent times, oral history archives have been drawn on to deconstruct, reframe, and reimagine established historical narratives from the perspectives of those who couldn’t, didn’t want to, or weren’t asked to participate in their construction. This presentation focuses on two projects in Birmingham that used oral history methods flexibly to reframe two of the city’s well documented histories. The Jewellery Quarter, once coined the ‘workshop of the world’ is well known as the centre of the ‘toy trade’. However, the area is changing so quickly, the stories of the industrial middle and traditional processes used are fading. The People’s Archive was a project that began with training interviewers and expanded into engagement events, workshops in local schools, a series of historical walks, and has become a series of podcasts featuring the voices of those interviewed. The second project was a Birmingham Music Archive commission during the #B2022 festival. The On Record In-Conversation series, used oral history as a foundation to connect the diverse music histories of Birmingham and shine a light on the city’s music culture, while we had the world’s attention during the Commonwealth Games.

Ian Francis and Chris Maher (Flatpack film festival) Wonderland: Birmingham’s Cinema Stories

For the past year cultural organisation Flatpack have been delving into the history of filmgoing in Birmingham, as part of a new commission for the Birmingham 2022 Festival. This citywide investigation, supported by 20 volunteers and a range of partners and research associates, has produced a new exhibition at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (open until 30 October) along with a series of community events, a website mapping venues and stories, and a publication to follow at the end of the year. Curator Ian Francis and project manager Chris Maher will reflect on the evolution of Wonderland, with a particular focus on the role of the volunteer researcher and the importance of place in shaping the project.

Chaired by Dr. Dave Harte (BCU).

Note: Siobhán will be presenting online, and Ian and Chris will be presenting in person.

About the speakers:

Dr Siobhán Stevenson is an Oral History Consultant, Audio Producer and Trainer. She is a Trustee of the Charles Parker Archive and a Regional Networker for the Oral History Society.

Ian Francis has been delivering film, arts and heritage projects in Birmingham and the West Midlands since the late 90s, and he founded Flatpack in 2006. 

Chris Maher is Project Manager for Wonderland, and Producer at Roundhouse Birmingham. He has 15 years experience of coordinating cultural projects, producing events, and managing venue spaces in Birmingham & the Black Country.