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Pioneers of the digital age choose city for festival; Culture Secretary James Purnell today reveals details of Birmingham's pioneering Digital Film and Media Festival.

Byline: James Purnell

The West Midlands is one of our leading creative regions. So it comes as no surprise that you'll be a pioneer of the digital age when Birmingham plays host to the Digital Film and Media Festival - the first of its kind in the UK - next autumn.

Last week in the Birmingham Post, Birmingham City Council announced that it would be investing in the festival.

This was the last piece in the jigsaw and I'm pleased to be in the West Midlands today to formally announce that it will first take place in October 2008 and then for the following two autumns. The details of next year's festival are still being put together, but I can reveal that it will be a four-day showcase and it will give everyone in the region the chance to really get stuck in to experimenting in a digital world.

There will be interactive gaming activities, a digital film making programme for schools and a digital talent campus at higher education institutions. And that's just a small taster of what will be on offer.

But it's no surprise that this pioneering event is taking part in this region.

The West Midlands creative sector is growing faster than in any other English region.

The Serious Games Institute, where I'll be speaking today, is being held as a shining example of how the West Midlands is leading the way in educational computer software.

It's the first of its kind in Europe, both funded and managed through partnerships between the public and private sector.

More than 160 interactive media companies are based here with nearly one fifth of everyone employed in the UK's games sector based in the West Midlands.

That's just one example of why the creative industries themselves and Liam Byrne's drive to put creativity at the heart of economic and housing growth in the region are so important.

And in Government, we are making plans to help the creative industries, grow, prosper and become even more successful.

I'll soon be publishing a policy paper on the creative industries.

We're looking at a whole range of issues and have been working with the people working in the creative industries for the past two years.

To give you an idea of the broad range of the paper - we're looking at how to stop pirated goods finding their way to our streets; how to better nurture creative talent in schools; how to help small businesses get access to finance; and how to better market ourselves on the global stage. This is a huge piece of work.

It's something that affects every single one of us - everyone who likes music or watching television, pottering round a craft fair or playing computer games.

If we get this right more young people who want to work in the creative industries will be able to find a job. More of our small businesses will succeed.

And our global reputation as the creative hub will be cemented.

Watch this space - and I hope you enjoy the festival next year.

The Culture West Midlands summit was taking place today in Coventry.

Media, Page 29
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 5, 2007
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