2017 is well underway and it seems that everyone is pushing on, full steam ahead – including us!

I had the pleasure of meeting the Civic Voice Board of Trustees in March. They were very complimentary on the work that we are doing and the direction we are heading. It was an opportunity to reflect and share with them the great work that our committees, members and partners are doing – from trees to buildings, blue plaques to public art, as well as the +PLUS Strategy and plans for our Centenary Year – it’s full of surprise and delight!

Following the launch of our +PLUS Strategy back in November, our Strategy Committee have been working through the implementation of the plan which includes a timetable to deliver the aims set out under our three objectives: Clearer Identity, Greater Influence and Stronger Society.

The Strategy Committee has been strengthened by the addition of two of our newest Trustees, Anita Pickerden and Haroon Qayum. Anita will focus on how we deliver the overall strategy and Haroon will focus on making a Stronger Society through improved governance.

We are currently developing our communications strategy, which will ensure we have a Clear Identity. Recently, we held a very successful Influencers’ Dinner for leaders within our community to help forge new partnerships and discuss ways of working together to make Birmingham a better place for everyone. Shani Ellis from John Lewis attended and said:

“The Influencers’ Dinner was a unique opportunity to sit round a table and enjoy the company of key individuals from the business and voluntary communities around the city. In the most convivial environment, conversation was stimulating, wide-ranging and erudite, and the opportunity to hear the views of these leaders in their field was hugely enjoyable and beneficial. It’s an occasion to make contacts, to pursue issues of interest and concern, and build networks that can reap rewards for both sides, and for me was time supremely well spent”.

Further dinners are planned in the coming months and I am looking forward to meeting other leaders in the city that are making a real difference.

We have also setup a new Events Committee, chaired by new Trustee, Amelia Ladbrook. Amelia and the committee will be coordinating and strengthening our events programme which includes the Spring Reception, Chairman’s Debate, Leader’s Breakfast and our popular People, Places, Pride events. I’m really looking forward to seeing this area grow and strengthen the Society.

Our People, Places Pride series of events began at the end of January with a tour of East End Foods factory by Jason Wouhra, Director. In March, we had a private lunch with Stephen Maddock OBE, CEO of the CBSO including an exclusive chance to watch the orchestra rehearse. Our annual walking tour of the side streets of the Jewellery Quarter with Ian Jelf took place this week. It was fully booked, which is no surprise as Ian’s stories and knowledge about such an important area of our city is second to none. The events have ben really well received and have attracted both members and non-members. There are some exciting events planned in the coming months, so please book your places early to avoid disappointment.

It was with great pride that a number of our Trustees, past and present, and I, attended the event announcing the results of Birmingham Big Art Project. Susan Phillipsz’ Station Clock was announced as the scheme that will be delivered. Her work is known all over the world and this will be her first major piece of work in the UK. The project was born out of Birmingham Civic Society and led by Glyn Pitchford, a former Trustee. Congratulations to Glyn and his team for reaching this important milestone, we are looking forward to continuing to support this great project.

Looking ahead, there is plenty happening and not just for the Society.

In just a few days, we will be voting for the Mayor of the West Midlands Combined   Authority. We have received responses to your questions from some of the mayoral candidates and I encourage you to take a look through these. With the General Election and on-going Brexit discussions, there are some key decisions to be made in the next few months that will define the direction of our city, region and country for the years to come!

It is great news (no pun intended!) that Marc Reeves, Editor of the Birmingham Post and Birmingham Mail and Editor-in-Chief for Trinity Mirror Midlands will be speaking at our Spring Reception on 25 May. Marc is one of the city’s leading influencers and so it will be fascinating to hear his views on how the nature of news has evolved over recent decades.

We are making final preparations for the launch of our Centenary Year celebrations in June.

“The City Beautiful” was the headline used in The Birmingham Post in June 1918 when our founders set out together to inspire and influence our city for the betterment of every citizen. It seems that although 100 years have passed, as a city, we are still facing similar challenges. However, based upon those who attended our Influencers’ Dinner and others I meet through our work, I am firmly of the mind that working together is the best way to ensure that we can make Birmingham a better place for everyone.

Thank you for all of your on-going support, energy and passion!

Gavin Orton, Chairman