Smart funding scheme helps Chelsea parks team to raise Birmingham's profile

Birmingham City Council's head of parks has told how an innovative approach to sponsorship enabled his team to push on with plans for their Gold Medal-winning Chelsea exhibit, designed to smash perceptions of Birmingham as England's "grey city".

Share: Birmingham parks head - image: HW
Share: Birmingham parks head - image: HW

At ground level along the length of each side of the stunning exhibit - a floral celebration of 300 years of Birmingham Cathedral - 264 miniature glass church-style windows were sited with the names of individuals who donated to the cost of staging the exhibit etched onto them. Birmingham head of parks Darren Share said the idea "just came to him".

Together with other donations that the team received, Share said the revenue generated not only completely covered the £50,000 cost of the exhibit but also the cost of rebuilding it in the grounds of the cathedral.

The majority of the plants on display were grown in the parks team's own nurseries. Wicker items were made by the parks team or recycled and a local steel manufacturer made a number of design elements at low cost.

Share said of the exhibit: "We are doing this to raise the profile of Birmingham as a horticultural city with a proud tradition of In Bloom and a large parks service - and to show that Birmingham is not a grey city."

On the budget constraints facing parks that have put other local authority teams off from exhibiting, he added: "There's always a way of getting through if you really want to do it. We're not going to go down without raising the profile of parks."

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