ArtsFest: Another top notch free event

This weekend Artsfest 2009 is upon us bringing its usual mix of eclectic musical tastes and drip feed of theatre.

Free for all public events is what makes a city in my opinion; it gives you a reason to live or visit somewhere and, credit where its due, Birmingham City Council do make proactive strides to ensure Birmingham is regularly updated with municipal events.
The Council House At ArtsFest 2008_thumb[4]
Frankfurt German Market, Taste of Birmingham, International Food Market, the list goes on. Every month or so an event worth attending rears its head, not only that, a (usually) free event. Music (or perhaps arts) and food seem to be the common themes and, although not particularly varied, they are themes worth persuing.

Art representation grows year on year in Birmingham with Digbeth as its cradle and champion, while food has unexpectedly put Birmingham on the map, with its newly awarded Michelin star restaurants as its flagship. Perhaps food shouldn’t be such a surprise, Birmingham is after all the birth place of Cadbury’s.

So get down to Artsfest, enjoy free, high quality music, because few other places offer it and few others do it at such quality.

And for once let’s doff our caps to the people at BCC who are helping to bring a new identity to the city’s public areas.

1 Comment

Filed under Big News

On piano-playing cats and the future of film making

Written by Anthony Tattum on 26 Aug 09 at 10:20am

I am no expert on film making. There, I have said it, so my following comments are based on observations and research. Film making is changing. More specifically: how to make a living from it as a small indie.

Nora playing the piano

Nora playing the piano

I was participating in a conference, Hello Digital, a screen and digital media conference and festival which we [Big Cat] helped organise last year. Film makers were asking a guy from Channel 4 how to make money from film making any more when people download them for free?

The internet has forced a lot of traditional industries to rethink their business models. The media, high street retail and insurance to name but a few have seen revenues decimated by online competition.

There may be a light at the end of the tunnel. Rupert Neate reported in the Telegraph today that the Google owned website YouTube has extended a scheme to share advertising revenues with prolific creators to include one-off video which “goes viral” and proves very popular. The notion of employing global social platforms to distribute content and gain infamy or money is nothing new.

Lauren Luke, a 27-year old from Newcastle-upon-Tyne has dropped out of school and become Britain’s most successful YouTube video creator offering beauty how-to tips.

At present only US-based users will be able to participate, but YouTube has said it intends to extend the scheme internationally. But does this mean that to make a living our highly creative film makers will have to “sell out” and produce piano-playing kitten videos or film their friends doing death defying stunts?

1 Comment

Filed under 1

Does Birmingham have the right qualifications?

The 27th annual climb in A level grades were announced yesterday to great fanfares of cynicism and howls of “dumbing down”. Thousands of Birmingham youngsters share in the bumper year’s results but they are discovering that A levels are a debased currency when it comes to a university place.

Up to 6 students are chasing every place available through the clearing system as the best cohort in history fight for entry to a degree course. By mid morning yesterday the elite universities had already announced they were full.

Birmingham University by Tom Thorpe

Birmingham University by Tom Thorpe

Today’s headlines have got me thinking about whether Birmingham has the qualifications to retain its students after they have graduated from our universities and colleges?

A cynic (who me?) could say Broad Street is now a cultural and literal wasteland. The once über cool Arcadian Centre has lost its shine. Pubs and Clubs are being closed in Digbeth because of noise bleed and poor planning policy. The dire lack of support for independent retail has resulted in a homogenous shopping experience in the city centre.

Can Birmingham ever compete against London in the graduate retention stakes?

The more I think about it the more I like the idea of a Greater Birmingham. I doubt this will ever happen but when I consider how we gain maximum leverage from our local assets I can only see benefit from the region having a shared and thus louder voice with its combined assets and a coherent communications strategy with synergistic objectives. The surrounding towns and boroughs will not lose their identity or charm any more than Chelsea or Wimbledon did during the creation of Greater London in the ‘60s.


Filed under 1, Big Cat Social, Marketing

Social Media killed the seminar

Seminars and conferences have been the staple diet of companies and yuppies alike since the 1980s. As well as providing a great excuse to go to another city on the company credit card, they are a forum where experts share their knowledge and ideas.
The content within such conferences help identify and mould current and future trends. The latest ideas and technology are showcased there along with market patterns and new innovations.

They sound interesting don’t they? I can tell you first hand they’re not and I’m sure many will agree with me. They’re filled with awkward small talk, pretending to be interested and trying to concentrate after sinking two cheeky pints in the interval.Happy_Customer_with_Laptop_repaired

Social Media maps and compartmentalises all the content found in seminars as well as being able to share the information in real time to a mass audience. Some content is interesting, others less so.The important thing is it’s free, quick, easy and you only learn want you want to learn.

No more expensive trips, no corporate comms; turn on the tele, eat your dinner and get online. Learn the future in real time.

1 Comment

Filed under Big Cat Group, Big Cat Social

Forget New York: This is Birmingham!

I’m sure anyone that has walked around the Bullring in the last week or so will have noticed a Statue of Liberty and a mock up yellow taxi just outside the Selfridges building.Taxi

I don’t know if this is a marketing ploy or stunt (although I assume it is) but it doesn’t half look out of place. Firstly, they’re not particularly evocative; it doesn’t grab the eye and whisk you over the mental pond to the land of steaming grills and Christmas movies. Secondly, and this maybe over the top, it is right next to Birmingham’s biggest landmark and symbol.

New York wouldn’t have a mock up Bullring, Custard Factory or ‘Floozie in the Jacuzzi’, it doesn’t need to because it’s a well established, world class city.

So is Birmingham, we’re not New York (yet) but we have unique landmarks and a distinctive culture. That means we no longer have to rely on basking in the glory of other cities. Our re-invention from industrial powerhouse to cultural and creative hotbed in little over 10 years is remarkable, and there is a genuine community and life force growing within the city.statue-of-liberty

Selfridges and the NEC give us an immediate draw and the beauty of the Council Building, Town Hall, and Centenary Square provide the city with a scenic dignity comparable with any European city.

I’m probably wrong, they’re probably a littlebit of fun but I think Birmingham has enough of a grounding and culture to not need to decorate our town with trinkets from New York or Paris.


Filed under Big Cat Group, Big Questions

Say hello to Big Cat Strategy

Our 4th and final departmental blog is up and running. Its author, Daniel Webb, has just come back from holiday and so was unable to get the blog live as early as the others.

Big Cat Strategy is the marketing arm of the company and thus the blog will contain questions, comment and features on the world of marketing.

Check it out and see, it should be a hit.


Leave a comment

Filed under Big Cat Group, Marketing

Sharkey and George are back!!!

That time again… here to give you a sneak preview into the goings on in the Big Cat office.

The rain has been getting the Big Cat team down, so to cheer themselves up they decided to have a go-karting team building day! Its not safe for goldfish to go go-karting so we stayed in the safety of the board room. Well done to Nick Morgan & Julie Edge for winning the group race and Anthony Tattum for winning overall day!

go karting

We have seen some new faces in the office – Leila Campbell who sits with the events team and Sarah Stephenson who has been in the design studio. Its nice to see more ladies in the office.

This month has also seen the launch of departmental blogs. We did ask if we could have one but the boss said no – this regular post once a month is enough *sob sob*.

Events team has been working on events all over the city as everyone’s favourite venue The Old Library undergoes a refurbishment. This will include a new floor, new lighting system and a lick of paint amongst other things.

The PR, Social Media and events team had great news that they will be working together on 2 new projects. Events and Social Media will be working together on the West Midlands Police’s Safer Students campaign; the team working on this project will be making the road show interactive both physically and via the web to encourage trust in the police amongst the youth community.

Another departmental collaboration will be the Chamberlain Awards, the PR and events department will be working together to promote the ceremony and ensure the smooth running on the evening – I hope we get invited so I can wear my tux.

Leave a comment

Filed under Big Internal Stories

‘Brand’ new design blog (see what I did there)

Big Cat Idea

This is starting to become quite commonplace but our very own Jason Hannon, who has sired posts on this blog, has officially started his design blog.

Jason will be discussing branding, graphic design and advertising as well as offering opinion, industry insight and examples of great design.

hannons blog

Leave a comment

Filed under Big Cat Group, Big Internal Stories, Design

Yahoo and Microsoft need to stop trying to take over and just join in

Bookmark and Share

Remember the good old days of computers and the internet, when no one had a clue what the damn thing was and it’s only function seemed to be a window for sleaze.

It was also a time when Yahoo and Microsoft ruled the waves. Microsoft provided the computers and Yahoo provided the easy way to surf the web. It was such a simple time, with so little competition and so much opportunity. The internet was of course in black and white then and the family would gather round at 7:30 to watch the Yahoo search engine in action.


Fast forward 10-15 years and the game is much different. Apple’s super-smooth style has lubricated Microsoft’s mundane perch until they slid off in a frenzied panic; Google now have a 92% market share, an unprecedented share of such a vast market, and social media has extended the boundaries of publication and word-of-mouth.

The internet is a very different beast now; it was more of a luxury item then, now we literally could not live without it. Every piece of information imaginable is available and near perfect communication can be had between individuals on the other side of the planet.

But what’s coming next and how can Yahoo and Microsoft reclaim what was once theirs? Bing (Microsoft’s search engine) et al has failed massively and stupidly; trying to gain a reasonable percentage of Google’s market share is near pointless and extremely risky. No, something new must be thought up, something huge, something that would create a new craze on the web.Facebook

The current trend in the web is social networking and blogging. They weren’t always so popular and eventually something will come along and take its place in the hearts of fickle internet users. It is Yahoo’s task to dream it up, sadly it don’t think it works that way. Yahoo have had their time and it was good while it lasted, also the nature of the internet suggests that it is independent companies and individuals that bring about the real change on the web.

User based content and systems has made the internet a democracy with Google as the God and rank organiser through meritocracy. Yahoo and Microsoft don’t seem to understand this side of the web and that now the user is king. It is not an autocracy for them to take over with a wave of their wand.

They need to embrace the new changes, allow freedom through their applications and join in as an contributor, not an all conquering leader.

1 Comment

Filed under Big Cat Group, Big Cat Social

Say Hello to Big Cat Experience

All hail Leila Campbell, our newest recruit and latest blogger. The Big Cat Experience blog is now live and I demand all and sundry read it every day!

Leila will be streaming footage and images of Big Cat’s events from The Custard Factory and other external venues.

She will also be providing valuable insight into the events industry as well as comment features and general musings.

Events, dear boy, events!


Leave a comment

Filed under Big Events, Big Internal Stories, Big News