I spent Thursday night surrounded by some of the most inspiring, fascinating, talented, lovely and hilarious people I’ve ever met. Thursday 12 July 2018 marks three years since the opening of Impact Hub Birmingham, and if anyone knows how to throw a party, it’s creatives!
After the launch of IKON’s Young Birmingham Artists from the 1960s exhibition, my boyfriend and I made our way through Birmingham’s arts quarter, following its winding streets of graffiti-adorned brick walls, mismatched derelict buildings and empty car parks framed with stolen, broken shopping trolleys (which are probably just unappreciated art installations). The dark alleys and occasional carpet of broken glass (I tell myself these are also installations) don’t make for the most comfortable walk, particularly in the evening when the streets are quieter.
Finally, we arrived at the Impact Hub. I find it surreal to have found such a warm, safe haven at the epicentre of surroundings that often make me feel particularly anxious. In fact, as someone with anxiety disorder, the Impact Hub is a safe space for me both mentally and physically.
Upon arrival we were welcomed back into the space with love and open arms, and, as someone who struggles with the feeling and concept of ‘home’, I quite honestly found myself feeling exactly that – at home. I personally define ‘home’ as a feeling of safety, support, love and respect. I haven’t been in an environment which ticks these boxes in a very long time, so recognising how I felt on Thursday was so, so special.
The wonderful creatives at the Impact Hub filled the space with just as many positive vibes as usual, but this time with the added perk of delicious food and drink (Oh my goodness. The cupcakes from Brum Zine Fest were back. This is not a drill. I got to eat more of the cupcakes that I’ve been thinking about a lot since the zine fest. Photos coming up).
The evening kicked off with a talk by the one and only Immy Kaur, a real life Wonder Woman and co-founder of the Impact Hub. She discussed what the Hub has achieved up to this point, and their plans for its future. We were introduced to the (top secret and incredibly exciting) badass blueprint of Impact Hub Birmingham’s plan for world domination.
The stage was then taken by various Hub members who have launched innovative and social projects thanks to the space and support available at Impact Hub. Topics ranged from childcare to support for local artists, each project glowing with promise and brilliance.
As someone fairly new to the Impact Hub, it was lovely to hear from/speak to people who have benefitted from it across a range of timescales, some having been there right from the start.
It was then time to head outside to the courtyard for a Caribbean barbecue that I haven’t stopped thinking about since my first bite of spiced chicken wing. Of course, I made sure to take plenty of photos! Aside from taking a moment to basque in the sheer deliciousness of the grilled vegetable kebabs with hot sauce, dinner was spent soaking up the atmosphere and meeting likeminded creatives.
We then gathered in the workshop space and listened to some more testimonials from Impact Hub members and what they’ve achieved thanks to the space, with one performing his beautifully moving song; we hadn’t heard it before but by the final chorus the whole room was singing along. It was another incredibly special moment.
As the night went on the party really began, with music, dancing and karaoke, courtesy of the DJs who were serving tune after tune. The dance floor was cleared and ready to go, and we certainly filled it!
When I left the event, I was back in the streets that fill me with anxiety. What the Impact Hub has is so imbalanced by the world surrounding it, and that can be difficult to remember when you’re in it. Each time I leave I remind myself that I’m lucky enough to have found that safe space and I get to celebrate it.
And that’s pretty cool.
Thank you so much to everyone at Impact Hub Birmingham for an absolutely wonderful evening. Happy 3rd birthday!
photos: my own
illustrations: Libby VanderPloeg