YOU’VE all heard of people being presented with the freedom of the city – but what if anyone could have the keys? That’s what’s about to happen in Birmingham, the UK’s Second City.
As the city gears up to the opening of the Commonwealth Games, 15,000 keys are being made available free of charge, each allowing admission to some of the city’s hidden gems.
For six weeks running from May 28, anyone will be able to award the Key to the City to whomever they want, for whatever reason they want, by visiting a special Key Exchange.
Pic: Lensi Photography
Key holders will be able to explore 21 private and intriguing places and spaces that they might not have happened upon before, bringing a new perspective to the city.
Locations include special access to places such as 103 Colmore Row; Northfield Community Garden; the ACME Whistle Factory; Green Lane Masjid and the Ikon Gallery.
Access will run until August 7, and all 15,000 keys and their respective locks have been produced by security experts Yale, official sponsor of Key to the City, which is presented by Birmingham 2022 and Fierce.
Pic: Lensi Photography
It’s based on Paul Ramírez Jonas’ Key to The City, which ran in New York back in 2010, when 25,000 keys to private or normally inaccessible spaces were bestowed.
The aim of the project was to show that culture can still be a freely shared experience, while also highlighting the increasing privatisation of urban space.
The Key Exchange Ceremony site, located beneath the departure boards at Birmingham’s New Street Station, will initially open from 11am to 7pm, from May 28 to June 5 inclusive.
After that it’ll open from 11am to 7pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. There is no need to register in advance – just turn up on the day.
The £12 million Birmingham 2022 Festival runs from March to September and Key to the City is one of hundreds of events aiming to put the West Midlands’ creativity, ambition, heritage and diversity on a global stage.
For more information on Key to the City and Birmingham 2022 Festival visit birmingham2022.com/festival. Information on Key to the City can also be found at wearefierce.org.
Lead image courtesy Paul Ramírez Jonas
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