Using Birmingham's forgotten past to inspire our future by unlocking the world's first great people's Shakespeare library for all.
The Shakespeare Institute’s Professor Ewan Fernie is leading a major new project, called ‘Everything to Everybody’. It aims to re-connect Birmingham’s communities with the city’s Shakespearean heritage, re-establish the West Midlands as the world’s ‘go-to Shakespeare centre’, and recover Birmingham’s once proud reputation as the most democratic and progressive cultural centre in the world.
The University of Birmingham and Birmingham City Council are collaborating on a £1 million plan to revive the city’s almost-forgotten Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library (BSML) - the first, oldest and largest Shakespeare collection in any public library in the world and one of the UK’s most important cultural assets.
The ‘Everything to Everybody’ project unites the Shakespeare archive with the George Dawson Collection (GDC) - a wealth of documents relating to the nonconformist preacher, lecturer and activist, who founded the Library as part of a pioneering ‘Civic Gospel’ which helped make 19th-century Birmingham the world’s most progressive modern city.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund has given the partners £32,700 of development funding to help progress plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant. The full four-year project aims to revitalise Dawson’s dream of creating a culture actively involving everyone in Birmingham.
[Photo credit: © Alex Parre/ courtesy of Library of Birmingham]