West Midlands works as one to bring Channel 4 to the region
The campaign to convince Channel 4 (C4) to choose the West Midlands for its new national HQ reached fever pitch today (Wednesday 27/6) with the formal presentation to the broadcaster.
The West Midlands pitch team was a mixture of political leaders and industry experts, who worked as one to highlight the multiple reasons and benefits that make the region such an attractive proposition to the broadcaster.
The formal pitch was part of C4’s tour across the nation as it visits the shortlisted cities to assess the viability of each bid. The delegation from C4 included: Alex Mahon, chief executive; Jonathan Allan, chief commercial officer; Sophie Jones, head of corporate relations; Kathryn Barry, HR business partner; Gill Wilson, consultant/former head of features; Will Fox, project manager – Nations and Regions.
As part of the pitch, the West Midlands assembled a cast of creative talent, which included: Adil Ray (writer/actor/director); Steven Knight (screenwriter/film director); Debbie Isitt, creator of film franchise Nativity; and local poet Casey Bailey.
The formal bid from West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) featured: Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands; Dawn Baxendale, Chief Executive, Birmingham City Council; and Martin Reeves, Chief Executive, Coventry City Council. The leaders of Birmingham and Coventry City Councils were also on hand to lend their support to the bid.
Cllr Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “A wealth of knowledge and creativity, combined with one of the youngest and most diverse populations in Europe, make Birmingham a perfect fit for Channel 4.
“There’s never been a better time to come to the West Midlands. Our thriving region is undergoing an exciting cultural renaissance and we have the digital skills, talent and energy needed to make the move a huge success.”
Cllr George Duggins, Leader of Coventry City Council, said: “We were delighted to meet the Channel 4 team and show them what a great site the West Midlands would be for a new headquarters.
“We believe we are the perfect choice, with our central position, first class transport links and strong cultural scene, and we put across a very strong case for why they should join us and be part of our exciting future.
“Coventry won the title of UK City of Culture 2021 by working with partners and other organisations to show the potential of our young, skilled and diverse population and how our city is growing and changing for the future.
“Those same strengths make us the perfect choice for Channel 4 and I believe that we put across a very strong argument and showed them how relocating to the region would not just help the West Midlands, but help Channel 4 and create something special for both of us.”
The Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “The prize of Channel 4’s National HQ is a huge one for the region. Today we brought together everybody who has been working with us from the political and industry to really press the case to the leadership team at Channel 4.
“Because our region has put the hard work into this over the last few years and because everybody has got right behind this bid, we have honed our case, gathered support and have every right to feel confident.”
The WMCA bid highlights the many strengths of the West Midlands under the strapline of ‘Get Closer’, including: the region’s unparalleled connectedness to talent, ideas and resources, its youth and diversity, and the ongoing success and development the region is experiencing such as Coventry named UK City of Culture 2021, and the Commonwealth Games in 2022.
C4 is seeking to establish three new creative hubs outside London, as part of its ‘4 All the UK’ strategy. The largest of these hubs will become the national headquarters, consisting of offices, a new studio, a base for daily programmes and a new digital production unit. The final announcement will be in October, with the broadcaster moving to the new HQ in 2019.