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A Look Inside the Birmingham Art Scene

England's second city has a diverse and thriving arts scene - from galleries to theatre to events, there's always something going on. Birmingham is home to internationally renowned music schools, orchestras, and theatre companies, as well as popular music and arts festivals. While London's cultural gravity is hard to ignore, Birmingham's arts and culture scene is uniquely exciting and innovative, and offers something new for its residents and visitors.

With the Berkeley Group expanding its portfolio of developments and bringing new homes to Birmingham with Snow Hill Wharf, and the city becoming ever more popular as a place to live and work, there's never been a better time to appreciate the art scene Birmingham has to offer.

The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is one of the UK's foremost galleries, home to collections of international importance, including one of the largest collections of Pre-Raphaelite art. Smaller in size but no less renowned is the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, a gallery regularly listed among the UK's best.

For contemporary art, there's no better choice than the Ikon Gallery. This summer the main exhibition will be works by Francis Alys, exploring the turbulent environment of the Middle East through films, paintings, and drawings. Every September, Birmingham also hosts the largest free arts festival in the UK, ArtsFest, providing free access to many of the city's best galleries.

Birmingham is also well served for classical music and performance, with the renowned Birmingham Royal Ballet, one of the UK's three major ballet companies, and the only one outside London. Upcoming performances include La Fille mal gardee, and the new Fire and Fury inspired by the earliest days of ballet in the court of Louis XIV. Equally renowned is the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, resident at Symphony Hall, considered one of the best concert halls of the 20th century.

If theatre is your love, you have four major venues to choose from, including the Hippodrome, the Alexandra Theatre, the Old Rep, and the innovative Birmingham Repertory Theatre (the Rep). This summer and autumn brings some big shows and performances to Birmingham's stages, including Rebus: Long Shadows at the Rep, written exclusively for the stage, and the hugely popular and multi-award-winning musical Matilda at the Hippodrome.