The Narrativium Projects

We have a team of experienced arts professionals who work with us to create ‘narrativium’, both for The New Optimists and the Birmingham Food Council. They include director Graeme Rose, producer Charlotte Gregory, composer Sara Colman, writer Mez Packer. We also work in collaboration with macbirmingham and River Rea Films.

So far, there are four Narrativium Projects listed in various stages of production:

Sipho_FoodFuturesNarrativium I: Arts Council-funded Food Futures

Young artists devised, wrote and performed a multimedia show; ‘stories from the future’, Food Futures, based on the scientists’ work on the Birmingham 2050 Scenarios Project. It was performed at the Midland Arts Centre in front of an appreciative 70-strong audience on 27th September 2014.

Their work was based on our commissioned piece of writing: One family, four futures by Keith and Ellie Richards. The image (left) is of one of the four young performers, Sipho Eric Dube.

Narrativium II: The Hand That Feeds: A musical about food crime

We commissioned and are currently in rehearsal for a song cycle about food crime. Unlike the composer, Sara Colman, who has a more sophisticated musical view of the world than I do, I like to think of rock-opera-meets-Greek-chorus-meets-community-choir-meets-jazz-composition . . . It was first performed in front of St Martins in the Bullring on 14th May 2016 twice, at midday and at 2:30pm. 

It was also performed live a year later — at midday on 10th June 2017 near St Cuthbert’s Church in Castle Vale, and again at 1pm on 13th June 2017 in Victoria Square, Birmingham, both performances at the request of Cllr Claire Spencer (aka @thedancingflea).

There is a live recording of the first of the June 2016 performances here. And this 5.36 minute film by River Rea Films includes extracts from it, plus interviews with science advisor, Professor Chris Elliott, director Graeme Rose, producer Charlotte Gregory, composer Sara Colman, members of the cast and the audience, plus Nicola Temple author of Sorting the Bull from the Beef: The science of food fraud forensics and yours truly, Kate Cooper:

Logos_groupIt was huge fun to do. Much more than fun of course — the content is about food crime and its impact, plus the science behind both the unscrupulous criminals and those who find ’em.

We’re grateful to our sponsors (see right) without whom this madcap project couldn’t have got off the ground let alone happen.

100-meals-logo-tempNarrativium III: A Geography of Birmingham in 100 Meals

The idea for this ‘100 meals’ project was sparked by Jim Parle’s memorable remark during the Birmingham 2050 Scenarios Project, eating is social glue. Its purpose is to bring together people from across the city to share each other’s company over good food. We ran a pilot project in 2015 led by Tom , from which we learned a lot, in particular what not to do.

We’re now planning a follow-up project which will involve the collection and collation of lots of interesting data and factoids about the food we eat as well as about the city itself.


and in the pipeline:

Narrativium IV: Beatfreeks Comms project & Birmingham Food Council

We’re lending the name to the Birmingham Food Council who, together with the brilliant Beatfreeks guys, are applying for funding to use the arts to communicate the evidence base behind the work the Food Council are doing.



Finally, here’s info about why we set up the Narrativum Projects — why ‘narrativium’, and when it all began. (Yes, we owe Terry Pratchett!)

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