Created in Birmingham was a blog set up by myself and Stef Lewandowski that launched in 2007. I ran it for the first couple of years before passing it on to Chris Unitt who developed it further before in turn handing it on to a series of editors until, like all good things, it petered out around 2016. CiB was responsible for my coming into contact with Birmingham’s artistic scenes and communities, helped build my reputation in the city and led to me doing pretty much everything on this website and beyond, so I owe it a lot.

Stef and I met on a Birmingham Flickr meetup in 2016. While coming from very different worlds with wildly diverging ambitions, we shared a sense that people and businesses were using the internet wrongly and that weblogs might be the solution.

I had been blogging since 2000 and since moving back to Birmingham in 2004 had developed an interest in blogging about where I lived. There were a number of city-specific blogs such as New York’s Gothamist while bloggers like Diamond Geezer were (and still are!) documenting the minutia of London. I was excited by this activity and very aware that none of it was happening in second-tier cities like Birmingham, so I figured I’d give it a go, first on my own website and eventually on BrumBlog, a scrappy blogspot hosted site.

Meanwhile Stef, running the web design company 3form, was involved with Creative Republic, a consortium of local businesses who were trying to raise the profile of what were being called the ‘creative industries’, highlighting their economic impact on the region and making the case for serious investment by local and national government.

Knowing I was writing about the city, Stef asked if I would be interested in doing some articles and interviews for a new Creative Republic website, funded with some Arts Council money. (This was back in the days when there was still Arts Council money.) They could pay £500 a month for a small number of pieces. At the time I was living very frugally doing minimum-wage temp work to pay the bills and my monthly income was about £500, so I said for that fee I’d be up for full time blogging.

At the time there was a trend for funded websites to cost thousands of pounds and to just sit there looking pretty but achieving very little. We were very keen that the CiB website itself should push back against this an demonstrate that an off-the-shelf website built on open source tech would be more effective, especially if the funds were used to create regularly updated content.

The goal of the site was to encourage all arts and creative organisations and individuals to run their own blog to create a distributed network of sites.

It was, as they say, a heady time and the current state of the online world, where everyone is locked away on corporate platforms praying or paying for exposure, shows how naive we were that this revolution would last. But it for a few years it worked and grew to the point where the flaws in the model became apparent (I joked that it should be renamed “Created in the Moseley-Digbeth corridor” as it barely touched on the rest of the region), bringing together a lot of people many of whom went on to do really interesting things.

Oh, and it won a Guardian Media award in 2008 (BBC report), which was nice. And there was the Created in Birmingham Shop in the Bullring, which was quite the adventure.

The domain lapsed a long time ago but I took a static snapshot of the site for my archive which is hosted on GitHub. Browse the site at

There’s a lot more to the Created in Birmingham story and I feel bad for leaving some key people and events out, not to mention fellow travellers like Jon Bounds’ Birmingham It’s Not Shit. I guess the first two years is what’s relevant to this website. Maybe one day I’ll write up the whole shebang.