The Public was home to thousands of events
By the time of closure in November 2013, The Public was established as a leading comedy venue in the Black Country; devising an exciting programme, featuring a mix of the biggest names on the circuit; stand up comedy club nights; and a series of comedic theatre, sketch and magic shows.
The Public was also committed to providing a platform for local stand up comedians and performers; hosting two successful stand up comedy competitions, as well as a semi-regular comedy showcase night for local performers. These events acted as feeders to the regular club nights, enabling local acts to perform alongside a range of acts, from hotly tipped up and coming acts from the national circuit to Fosters Award nominees.
The Public’s comedy programme was integral to The Public’s aim to develop an exciting series of events and commercial income; with the overall goal of contributing to the evening economy in West Bromwich and raising the profile of the region.
Russell Kane – Smallness (2013)
Gina Yashere – Gina Live! (2013)
Jenny Éclair – Eclairious (2013)
Robin Ince – The Importance of Being Interested (2013)
Lucy Porter – People Person (2013)
Shazia Mirza – Cuckooland (2013)
Steve Hughes – Big Issues (2012)
Bridget Christie – War Donkey (2012)
Alexei Sayle – Tour Warm Up (2012)
Al Murray – The Only Way is Epic (2012)
Mike Gunn and Sean Collins – Still on the Roadshow Tour (2012)
Patrick Monahan – Hug Me I Feel Good (2011)
Peacock and Gamble – Emergency Broadcast (2011)
Imran Yusuf – An Audience with Imran Yusuf (2011)
Shazia Mirza – Multiple Choice (2010)
Stand Up Comedy Club Nights
Sit Down, Stand Up with Avalon Comedy Network
A Friday night comedy club night hosted in partnership with Avalon Promotions: one of the nations leading comedy promoters. The regaulr night began in March 2013 and featured headline performances from Alun Cochrane and WitTank, and support a mix of local acts, and performers from the Avalon roster.
The Laughing Sole Comedy Club
Hosted by Barbara Nice; The Laughing Sole was an accessible, inclusive Wednesday night comedy club and featured performances from Isy Suttie, Celia Pacquola, The Noise Next Door, and James Dowdeswell.
A Friday night comedy club night hosted in partnership with Just Fair Laughs. Featured headline performances from Jo Enright, Gary Delaney and Barabra Nice.
The Public’s Comedy Showcase
A semi regular stand up showcase, organised by The Public, featuring locally based comedians; such as Johnny Sorrow, Laurence Saunders, Al Rudge, James Cook, Masai Graham, Lovedev Barpaga and many more.
Stand Up Competitions
Starter For Ten 2011 – Winner:
Winner Lee Gee, from Walsall, beat competition from 9 other acts to win a cash prize and two paid support and compere slots.
#Hashtag Funny – Winner: Jack Kirwan
Jack Kirwan emerged as winner, beating 8 other acts. The show was interactive, with a live twitter feed and hashtag for audience members to comment on the material taking place on stage.
Theatre, Magic and Sketch Comedy
As well as stand up comedy, The Public also hosted a number of comedic theatre, sketch and magic performances, including the following:
Fizzog Productions: The 50% Funnier Tour (2013)
An Audience with Doreen by Flying Ducks Theatre Company (2013)
Piff the Magic Dragon: Jurassic Bark (2012)
D’Arranged Marriage by Those Indian Guys (2011)
Allah Made Me Funny (2009)
Over four years, The Public has hosted a number of festivals, in the process showcasing performances and work from the film makers, directors, musicians and societies from across the region.
Some festivals were based solely at The Public, and were organised partnerships with promoters and community groups. Others saw The Public act in host venue capacity for regional festivals. A large part of The Public’s commitment to showcase the arts and performance in West Bromwich and Sandwell.
2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
(known as Fudgestock in 2009, and 2010)
The Judgestock music festival is a charity music event that began in small venues and pubs in West Bromwich.
In 2009, Judgestock moved to The Public. Over a four year period, the festival grew the event year on year.
The festival has always been organised by a committee of people from the local community in West Bromwich, led by local music promoter Lee Judge, with proceeds raised in aid of various charities – principally MacMillan Cancer Support.
Consisting of 3 separate stages, featuring of rock, indie, metal, pop, tributes, and acoustic performances; Judgestock has featured over 100 acts from the local area and beyond. In 2012 the festival teamed with The Public’s School in Residence, George Salter Academy, to feature performances from over 50 children on its outdoor stage.
In a testament to the successful partnership with The Public, 2013 saw the Judgestock Festival developed further, with the event expanding to a new format as a three-day, outdoor music festival in held in Sandwell Valley during the August Bank Holiday.
NOW WE ARE WEEKENDER
Now We Are Weekender was an indie pop and rock weekender hosted by The Public, and organised in conjunction with London-based music promoters Funny Looking Cat.
The two day festival incorporated performances from 32 acts and DJ’s in 2012; and 22 acts and DJ’s in 2013.
Headliners across the two festivals included Misty’s Big Adventure, Art Brut, The School, Johnny Foreigner, Kid Canaveral, Darren Hayman and The Lovely Egg.
A range of West Midlands based acts performed over the two events, including:
God Damn (Wolverhampton)
The Bombergs (Birmingham)
Vault of Eagles (Rowley Regis)
Ions (West Bromwich)
Shana Tova (Birmingham and Dudley)
Dakota Beats (Dudley)
Circus Town (Birmingham)
Now We Are Weekender was promoted in partnership with Brumnotes Magazine and theticketsellers.
The weekender was a great success, with over 300 attendees per day, and saw music fans travel from all over the country for a weekend of live entertainment in West Bromwich.
SANDWELL MUSIC AND ARTS FESTIVAL
2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Over the four years of operations, The Public and Sandwell Music and Arts Service worked in collaboration on a variety of activities and events. The most frequent being the use of space within the building for band rehearsals and tuition every Tuesday and Thursday evening, during term time.
From 2010 onwards, The Public also acted as host for the annual Sandwell Music and Arts Service Festival. The majority of spaces were utilised by the service for a weeklong festival of performance, tuition and workshops. to surprising acoustic performances around the gallery spaces and “battle of the bands” style competitions in the Theatre.
In 2012, a spectacular 200 piece band (featuring pupils from 8 years old and upwards) were situated across our ground floor and along the ramp to play newly commissioned pice for the London Olympics.
BIRMINGHAM INTERNATIONAL JAZZ AND BLUES FESTIVAL
In 2012 and 2013, The Public acted as one of more than 50 host venues across Birmingham and the Black Country for the Birmingham International Jazz and Blues Festival. A packed PINKTANK bar hosted live jazz performances from Pat Giroud Trio in 2012 and Roy Forbes and The Brian Dee Trio in 2013.
CIGAR BOX BLUES FESTIVAL
In 2010 and 2011; The Public hosted Home Grown Music Collective’s Cigar Box Blues Festival.
The one-day festival incorporated a mixture of cigar box construction workshops, demonstrations of new instruments and talks for aficionados.
In the evening consisted of a series of performances by cigar box blues performers from around the globe, including Chickenbone John, Tinqu8 and Hollowbelly.
ARTS, HERITAGE, AND FILM
HOME OF METAL
The Home of Metal was a regional festival of events and exhibitions that took place across 15 venues in the four local authority areas of Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Walsall and Sandwell and Dudley. It celebrated an oft-neglected element of the region’s heritage: it being the birthplace of heavy metal.
In March 2011, The Public hosted a family fun day for the festival in the Longroom. Compered by Kerrang! DJ Johnny Doom the day was used to gather testimonies and memorabilia – gathering content for the festival and exhbitions later in the year. In addition, there was also a special edition of The Public’s Saturday Art Club; a “build your own a guitar” workshop from Juneau Projects and a gig photography master class by Steve Gerrard.
In September 2011; The Public was one of 15 host venues for the Home of Metal Weekender; a pan-Black Country festival of of events, film screenings, live music and familiy activities. The Public screened “Sound It Out” a documentary by Jeanie Findlay about the sole surviving record shop in Teeside; and an exhibition of photography by Steve Gerrard.
SHOUT FILM FESTIVAL 2012
SHOUT FESTIVAL 2013
In November 2012, The Public screened a series of films as part of Shout Film Festival - Birmingham LGBT’s first festival of queer film. Films included North Sea Texas, Gayby and Mosquita Mari.
In 2013, The Public was also a host venue for SHOUT Festival, a festival of Queer Arts & Culture across Birmingham and the West Midlands.
As part of the festival. Ther Public hosted performances from the versatile Clare Summerskill, who provided a humorous look at LGBT history with the show Well That Explains It!
The Public also hosted a single performance of In Excelsis, a specially commissioned combination of live music and theatre devised by Trans performer Mandy Romero. The show explored 1970s West Bromwich, the Black County and Birmingham, the multimedia performance fused history, stories and key transitional moments with the discovery of glam rock.
Speaking of her experience at The Public, Mandy Romero said:
“During the recent premiere of my show “In Excelsis” at The Public for the SHOUT Festival I and my team of technicians and production support were given the warmest of welcomes and every kind of support to help us make our production successful. The Public is one of the friendliest venues I have toured to and very ready to assist performers – everyone from Front of House to technical staff and management made special efforts to accommodate us and sort out any problems. I would be very happy to perform there again.”
Commenting on their work with The Public, the SHOUT Committee stated:
“We have loved our time working with The Public and have relished the opportunity to bring aspects of culture to Sandwell and West Bromwich which were previously not presented or shown. The Public has always been a supporter and champion of diversity and following some initial showing of Queer Cinema with the now disbanded Sandwell LGBT, approached us with the view to bringing SHOUT activity and ensuring that people had access to high quality and relevant culture. The staff were excellent and always willing to go the extra mile in everything from spreading the word through to providing a safe and welcoming environment and ensuring that our events were professionally presented. Without The Public and their support and advocacy for LGBT issues and their passion to put on quality cultural products we would have been unable to bring SHOUT to the area. We struggle to see how we will be able to bring SHOUT activity to Sandwell in the future without a state-of-the-art venue and a committed and proactive team working so hard to ensure success of events such as these.”
Punch Records’ BASS Festival
BASS Festival (British Arts and Street Sounds) is the UK’s only month long celebration of Black Music and Art. Now its 7 year BASS has presented a wide rage of events, new commissions, gigs, exhibitions, showcases, club nights, theatre and film, around the theme of Revolution.
In 2011, as part of Bass Festival, The Public hosted Hip Hop Revolution, a day long event packed full of dance workshops and performances, centred around the five elements of Hip Hop.
• Turbo from Sky’s Got to Dance
• Eastpak Throwdown, London’s biggest underground Hip Hop dance event
• Street Wear Designer Daniel Isles of SoapBox World Limited Edition give-aways
• StayFresh DJ and MC Showcase
• Rare screening of the Hip Hop classic film Wild Style
• Hip Hop photo studio, stalls and workshops throughout the day.
All events and workshops are free of charge, with the exception of Throwdown.
In the summer of 2013, Sandwell Arts Trust commissioned local theatre group Freshold Theatre to curate a festival of outdoor street performances.
Throught the summer of 2013, WOW! Festival, took place outside The Public each Wednesday and featured a diverse mix of acts from dance and live music to circus performers and magicians, in a celebration of local creative talent.
SANDWELL ARTS FESTIVAL
2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Sandwell Arts Festival is an annual programme of performances, workshops and exhibitions taking place across Oldbury, Rowley Regis, Smethwick, Tipton, Wednesbury and West Bromwich; including a celebratory procession that takes over New Square and the streets of West Bromwich.
As well as providing a venue for planning meetings of the Festival, The Public has also provided staff administrative support, as well as space for craft activities and other activities; acting as a base for the main precession.
Theatre Fever is a celebratory festival of theatre made in the West Midlands.
Over two weeks in March 2013, over 30 Theatre Fever shows took place at a variety of venues from such as arts spaces in Digbeth’s Eastside to Wolverhampton’s Grand.
As part of Theatre Fever, The Public hosted a performance of children’s theatre production Grisly Tales From Tumblewater By Teasel Theatre Company
Image: Birmingham Review / Katie Foulkes
The Public was a very popular comedy venue
In loving memory of The Public