Digbeth, Birmingham’s creative heartland, has always been a beacon for artists, musicians, and culture enthusiasts. Its eclectic mix of art installations, live music, and the undeniable buzz of creativity makes it a unique spot in the city. Now, thanks to an innovative project by Birmingham Museums Trust (BMT) in collaboration with Occupy White Walls, the essence of Digbeth is accessible to a global audience, transcending geographical boundaries.

October 2022 marked a significant milestone with the launch of KULTURA Sessions: Brum. This initiative brought Digbeth’s cultural scene into the digital realm through a metaversal platform, allowing users worldwide to explore this neighborhood virtually. The project transformed the way people interact with art and music, offering a virtual music festival set against a digitally recreated Digbeth, affectionately dubbed BRUM. Here, avatars wander through the virtual streets, engaging with the local scene’s vibrancy in a groundbreaking “cyber interpretation” of the area.

The authenticity of Digbeth’s atmosphere was meticulously captured through the talents of six West Midlands artists, including musician Ace Ambrose, poet Jasmine Gardiso, and artist Rosa Francesca, who also served as the Creative Producer. This endeavor was supported by The Space, showcasing a harmonious blend of music, poetry, and visual art, anchored in the region’s landmarks like Gibb Street and the Custard Factory.

This project builds on the success of a previous collaboration between BMT and Occupy White Walls in 2021, which was a pioneering venture during the pandemic, creating virtual galleries filled with treasures from the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

Linda Spurdle, the Head of Digital at Birmingham Museums, highlighted the evolution of their digital engagements, emphasizing the transformative addition of sound to the Occupy White Walls platform. The concept of a virtual music festival in BRUM was born out of the necessity for copyright-free or artist-owned audio content, leading to an innovative way to feature music and art.

The KULTURA Sessions: Brum experience premiered on Twitch on October 11th, inviting gamers and art lovers alike to delve into this virtual environment. Hosted by gaming influencers Blue and Queenie, the event was a bridge between traditional gaming and the art world, drawing over 5,000 live views across two streams. This novel approach to launching exhibitions and collections proved to be an effective strategy to engage a diverse audience.

Beyond introducing gamers to Digbeth’s art scene, the project has encouraged traditional museum visitors to explore digital platforms, broadening their cultural horizons. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of new technologies, and projects like this demonstrate the metaverse’s growing relevance in our lives.

As Birmingham Museums prepare for a temporary closure until 2024, online initiatives like KULTURA Sessions: Brum become crucial in maintaining community engagement and showcasing art in innovative ways. This digital journey into Digbeth’s heart not only celebrates local talent but also signals a new era of cultural exploration, where the boundaries of art, music, and technology blur into a unified, immersive experience.

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