What’s happening in Bradford: Introducing The Brick Box Ladies

David Hockney’s Birthday

Hello to you all, from The Brick Box ladies! We’re over in our base camp The Brick Box Rooms in Ivegate, in the very centre of Bradford, observing the cultural comings and goings of our beautiful home city.

For the uninitiated, The Brick Box Rooms is a bar and venue with a very broad remit to host cultural, social and art events for the good people of Bradders and beyond.

On any given evening you might wander in to find such delights as the Special Autism Services house band playing songs about cats; an LGBT+ pre-theatre trip meet-up; a whole exhibition about toast art; a room covered in tin foil by adults with learning disabilities for a space-themed disco; or a DJ blasting out feelgood tunes to more people than you’d think could possibly fit on our makeshift dancefloor.

Space-themed LD Disco

From such a central vantage point, and with our eyes and ears constantly scanning the city for exciting arts news, we’re very happy to be able to bring you a monthly bulletin of the best bits of Bradford culture.

Much of what goes on in the creative life of Bradford is DIY, a little hidden, or very niche, but it’s all there for the finding if you know what you’re looking for.

And if you DO know what you’re looking for, the news this week that Bradford will be bidding for UK City of Culture 2025 will be rather unsurprising. “What cultural stuff is happening in Bradford lol?” has been one faint response on social media among the people engaging with the #bradford2025 hashtag, but so many more people are chipping in seemingly well versed in the underground and word-of-mouth nature of a lot of our best bits.

If you follow Arts Council news you’ll probably already know there are 11 National Portfolio Organisations in the district, covering literature, theatre, dance, visual art and more. But as wonderful and inspiring as these brilliant organisations are, that’s only scratching the surface of what’s going on inside the BD postcode.

Kirsty Taylor at We Are Here

Others bits and pieces highlighted on the #bradford2025 hashtag this week include the Bradford Friendship Choir, which welcomes asylum seekers to the city through the social and spirit-lifting activity of singing together. There are also pioneering projects like Deadstream, the monthly online-only broadcast of performances from Fuse Artspace, and We Are Here by Wur Bradford, which celebrated the Oastler Market by getting stallholders to turn the whole place into an immersive performance for a couple of days. The powerhouse that is the Punjabi Roots Academy have played a few of our city centre events, bringing Bhangra dancing to a roomful of punters who were only too happy to join in despite having an abundance of left feet among them. And if you’re looking for the next generation of young, politically-savvy activist lasses, Speakers’ Corner is practically teeming with them.

Bradford Friendship Choir

There’s no common thread tying all these cultural happenings together other than that they’re self-organised, and created by people who live here. That might not sound like much, but just think about it: Bradford is the youngest city in Europe, and famously one of the most diverse, so any cultural output that reflects its population is going to be pretty exciting to follow, and quite unlike any other city’s cultural offer.

So if you’re one of the people wondering what on earth Bradford could be about to offer the country as part of its UK City of Culture bid, prepare to go ‘oooo, I didn’t know about that, that sounds quite good actually’ a lot over the next few months.