Thrift Radiates Happiness doors open queue.
Image courtesy of Elly Clarke
Elly Clarke, Half Crowns and Petticoats, audio, 2013
Tom Crawford, Millwall Hammer, originally 2011, recreated for Thrift Radiates Happiness, 2013
Image courtesy Elly Clarke
Making Money: Photographs of the Royal Mint by Sir Benjamin Stone, 1898, photographs from the Library of Birmingham Archive
Sparrow+Castice for Investment Project, 2013
Mecanno for Investment Project, 2013
Julie Tsang for Investment Project, 2013
Launch night
Caitlin Griffiths, Exchange (After Tracey Emin’s ‘Interview’), video, 2013 and Account, ink and cheques, 2013
Nicole Wilson, The National Debt Project, letters, 2009 - present
Image courtesy Elly Clarke
Ellie Harrison, History of the Financial Crises, popcorn machines and popcorn, 2009
Either Mary Yacoob or Elly Clarke for Investment Project, 2013
Library of Birmingham Archive print for Investment Project, 2013
Spartacus Chetwynd for Investment Project, 2013
It is an absolute honour to be nominated for an Arts & Business Cultural Champion Award, let alone be selected, with the added bonus of winning the 'Champion of Champions' Award! This renowned annual award was won through initiating both the Aedas Presents and Thrift Radiates Happiness projects.

Arts & Business was formed 35 years ago on the principle that a strong relationship between the arts and business is mutually beneficial and encourages both to prosper.  So it is key that through these projects I have been able to spark new partnerships between commerce and culture and offer the expertise to both parties.

It is only through developing ongoing relationships, as I have with the Royal Institute of British Architects, Birmingham City Council and TROVE Gallery; that has meant that we, as established partnerships, can make such exciting dreams into reality.

So as this years 'Champion of Champions' (I will not get sick of using this!) that I would like to encourage anyone who has an idea for an event to start talking about it to your networks (whether cultural organisations or corporate), put in the hours, but don't think about it too much - just make something happen!  It is possible!  A story which I regularly tell is that Thrift Radiates Happiness was an idea that was stumbled across over a glass of wine.  But just by making the commitment, this event proved to be such a success: Over 1,500 people through the door: Over 600 favourites, comments and retweets on social media alone: Extensive coverage in local and national press including amazing reviews: A sell out of investment pieces before the end of the show!

Nearly four weeks on from Thrift Radiates Happiness I am still overwhelmed with the success of the event, and indeed loved every second of it, so am keen to get going on the next project!

I wish you all the success with your own projects!

Kate Eagle

Congratulations to Kate Eagle who has just picked up her Champion of Champions Award at Arts & Business' Cultural Champion Awards in association with Jaguar Land Rover.

Image courtesy of Amy Kirkham.

Here's a video by Elly Clarke of Kate picking up her award!


How proud are we at TRH? Our Kate Eagle has been awarded the 'Champion of Champions' title at this years Arts & Business Cultural Champion Awards for all her hard work with Thrift Radiates Happiness.  WELL DONE, KATE! 


Business people awarded for outstanding contributions to the arts in the Midlands.

On Friday 22nd March seventeen people from the Midland’s business community were awarded for their outstanding contribution to the arts at the Jaguar Land Rover Business Champions for Arts & Business event at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

Prince’s Charity Arts & Business organised the event as a way to say thank you to those individuals who have enabled arts organisations in the region to continue to thrive. Hosted by ITV’s Business Correspondent, Mark Gough.

Nadia Dooner, Regional Manager at Arts & Business says ‘We awarded some fantastic partnerships which highlight the strength of relationships between cultural organisations and local business, particularly individuals who champion the benefits of working with the arts.’

Of those honoured, a special recognition was awarded to Kate Eagle of Aedas as being the ‘Champion of Champions’ for her work with Aedas Presents and Thrift Radiates Happiness, which saw the vacant Municipal Bank on Broad Street transformed into a contemporary arts space earlier this month. 


For further media enquiries and images please contact:
Peter Collins, Arts & Business Midlands

Tel : 07973 294 287

Notes to editors:
Arts & Business

Arts & Business is a Business in the Community campaign and registered charity in England (274040).

Arts & Business sparks new partnerships between commerce and culture, connecting companies and individuals to cultural organisations and providing the expertise and insight for them to prosper together.

The charity was founded over 35 years ago on the principles that a strong relationship between the arts and business worlds is mutually beneficial and encourages both to prosper.

Business in the Community Stands for Responsible Business.

Business in the Community is a business-led charity focused on promoting responsible business practice. It has a growing membership of over 850 companies and a further 10,700 companies engaged in its campaigns globally.


Aedas, a leading international design practice, offers services in architecture, interior design, master planning, landscape, urban design and building consultancy within Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas.

We are committed to our core value of design excellence and are dedicated to research & development and sustainability.

Our 27 global offices allows us to apply international expertise with local knowledge and delivery thus supporting the communities in which we work.

Aedas Presents

Aedas Presents is the brainchild of Kate Eagle as Marketing Coordinator at global architectural practice Aedas and independent curator Charlie Levine.  Key supporters include the Birmingham Institute of Art & Design at University College Birmingham, the Birmingham Library and the Royal Institute of British Architects.

It was founded to support and showcase the work of emerging artists, students and graduates from local universities and colleges and to help them get on the first rung on the career ladder.  Aedas is a progressive practice dedicated to design excellence, sustainability and providing solutions for the built environment that benefit communities from around the world.

This ethos remains very much the way forward for the built environment and Aedas wanted to help invest in its future.  One way of doing this was to find a way to engage with young up and coming talented designers and provide them with an opportunity to showcase their work.  Helping them to climb that first rung of the design ladder will enable them to be seen and heard in what is a highly competitive work environment.

Thrift Radiates Happiness

Thrift Radiates Happiness is the first contemporary arts exhibition to be held at the Municipal Bank in central Birmingham, UK. 

One of Birmingham’s most historic landmark buildings is set to open its doors to the public for the first time in ten years when it plays host to a captivating four day contemporary arts exposition.

From 14-17 March 2013 the former Grade II listed Municipal Bank on Broad Street will showcase a creative programme of drawings, images, sound and light, video and music from local, national and international artists.

Arts & Business (A&B) is a registered charity in England (274040) and in Scotland (SC039470).

Here are some of our favourite funny 'I wish this was...' answers.
Elly & Kate installing 'Half Crowns in their Petticoats'
Sorting out Nicole's letters
Amy and Ellie testing popcorn machines
Amy rolling 'Investment' pieces
Tom installing 'Millwall Hammer' 
Caitlin installing 'Account'
Yesterday morning, at 10am, the Municipal Bank hall became a camera obscura - see if you can spot the white van and the buses driving down Broad Street!
This is incredible - found on British Pathe's website, here is a link to the original news footage from the 1933 official visit by King (the Prince) George VI and the Queen Mom to the Bank with Neville Chamberlain.

The text reads:
Civic Enterprise. Prince George opens £85,000 Headquarters of Birmingham's Municipal Bank.

Birmingham, West Midlands.

Prince George, Duke of Kent arrives to cheers to open the new building to house the HQ of Birmingham's Municipal bank. He meets various local dignitaries
HERE is the link to the film.
This article was first published in the Birmingham Mail.  
Carl Chinn kindly forwarded it to us to share on here! 
A Municipal Bank

Neville Chamberlain is a much maligned prime minister. For many Britons, he was a well-meaning but weak leader whose lack of strength both allowed and encouraged the aggression of Hitler. Denigrated as an appeaser, Chamberlain was also damned as a man guilty of failing to prepare the United Kingdom for war.

Dispirited and dejected by stunning German victories in Denmark and Norway in April 1940, he resigned as Prime Minister on 10 May - the same day that Belgium and Holland were invaded by the enemy. An honourable and patriotic man who put duty above self, Chamberlain stayed on in the War Cabinet. Stricken by bowel cancer, he resigned from office in September. He refused all honours and lived and died a simple citizen. In a world dominated by wicked men, Neville Chamberlain was a virtuous man who sadly died on November 9.

Six days later he was cremated in London and a memorial service was held for him in St Martin's, the parish church of Birmingham. By contrast to the dismally negative verdict of him by his political enemies, large numbers of Brummies regarded him more positively.

Chamberlain was praised by the Lord Mayor, Alderman Wilfred Martineau, as one of the city's 'most distinguished sons' and as a man who 'had a passionate desire for the betterment of the health and living conditions of the people'. Dr Barnes, the Bishop of Birmingham, emphasised Chamberlain's 'brief but valiant effort for peace', and added movingly that though he did not succeed he 'failed greatly'.

Support for the man who was a Freeman of the city, was as obvious in the ‘Birmingham Weekly Post’. Its editor stressed that Chamberlain's 'supreme effort for peace' at Munich had been 'acclaimed by the whole nation, and not least by those who have since, in the light of events, been bitterest in the denunciation of the man who instigated it.' Crucially, he had bought the nation 'twelve months' reprieve, during which the United Kingdom became 'better prepared to wage war'.

The people of Birmingham had good cause to praise Neville Chamberlain, for he was the inspiration for and instigator of a unique bank – the Birmingham Municipal Bank. As Lord Mayor of the city in 1915, he was walking across Chamberlain Place when he later recalled that ‘the thought of a need of a bank, backed by the municipality, flashed across my mind’.

It was the second year of the Great War, and the Government needed money desperately to prosecute a total war. Striving to draw in funds, it made constant appeals for funds via bonds and other means. Chamberlain felt these were unsatisfactory, especially with regard to encouraging working-class savers. He believed that ‘the real problem is to how to make a man save who hasn’t saved before’.

Not one to let a good idea remain unrealised, Chamberlain set to work. Although a Conservative he was steeped in the Birmingham tradition of co-operation and consultation, and he quickly sought the local trade union leaders. They included Councillor John Beard, head of the Workers Union, and Councillors Joseph Gregory and Eldred Halls of the Amalgamated Society of Gas, Municipal and General Workers. All of them responded enthusiastically.

Chamberlain then sought the support of councillors, chief of whom was Councillor C. T. Appleby, a chartered accountant. Together they drafted a scheme which was looked at by Sir William Schoolings and leading bankers and financial experts.

After taking into account their suggestions, Neville Chamberlain put the plan to the City's Finance Committee and on April 4, 1916 it was backed by the full Council. There was still a major hurdle to overcome, as Parliament had to approve the initiative. It failed to do so, giving way to pressure from bankers worried about opposition. Chamberlain was undeterred contacting the top bankers, he persuaded them to withdraw their obstruction and on August 23, 1916 the Municipal Savings Banks (War Loan Investment) Act was passed.

Over the next few weeks, an intense publicity campaign urged Birmingham's workers to join the bank. Neville Chamberlain and a variety of councillors, aldermen and other prominent people held more than 1,000 meetings in factories, workshops, offices and club rooms. This was because savings were made through workplaces via coupons paid as part wages or purchased from employers.

Then On September 29, 1916 the Birmingham Corporation Savings Bank opened the doors at its first premises - a basement in the service-laying section of the council's Water Department. The counter was only five yards long and behind it was a screen which portioned off a little office. It was small beginning for what was to become a great bank.

Workers flocked to join. By the end of 1917, the bank had 30,000 depositors who had collected over £500,000 – 80% of which was loaned to the Government. However, according to the Act the Bank had to be wound up within three months of the end of the war.

From the first Chamberlain had been determined that this problem would be overcome. During the publicity campaign he had declared that if the bank ‘is really shown to meet a need, not all the bankers in Lombard St. will prevent its becoming a permanent part of the municipal undertaking’. He was proven right.

In 1919 the Savings Bank Committee reported on the ‘remarkable stability of the accounts opened by the early depositors’. This feature made plain that ‘the desire to save is not a passing fancy, but the expression of a powerful instinct which will continue to act so long as the people are provided with the facilities suited to their habits and considerations.’

Sustained by such findings, Chamberlain and his supporters pressed for the Birmingham Corporation Act of July 1919 which allowed the city to open a permanent facility. The new Birmingham Municipal Bank opened on September 1 that year. It was a resounding success and within a year it boasted over 40,000 open accounts.

By 1927 this figure had expanded greatly to a quarter of a million, a figure encouraged by the opening of branches in working-class neighbourhoods and in large factories and schools. With its motto of ‘Security with Interest’ and symbol of a large key facing downwards, the Birmingham Municipal Bank was indeed the people’s ban – but just as Birmingham’s citizens expected their Lord Mayor to represent them by wearing regalia befitting the status of such an office so too did they expect their branch to have a headquarters befitting such a proud municipal enterprise.

A site was chosen on Broad Street in the area that had been designated for the Civic Centre Scheme. Across the way was the Hall of Memory, opened in 1925, and next door was the Masonic Temple, opened two years later.

The premises of Lee Longlands were cleared to make way for the new headquarters of the Municipal Bank. This company specialised in high-quality and distinctive furnishing, much of it made by hand in their own workshops, and had been set up in 1902 by Robert Lee and George Longland. With the demolition of their buildings, the second generation of the families oversaw the move further along Broad Street into a superb new art-deco style showroom with offices.

It was opened in 1931 at the height of the Great Depression. With unemployment rising inexorably and hard times stalking the land, Robert and Herbert Lee and Gilbert Longland took a brave decision to invest such large sums of money not only in their impressive building but also in pioneering ranges of furniture, some of which was imported from abroad. Thankfully it paid off and Lee Longlands continues to thrive on Broad Street. Managed by Robert Lee, the fourth generation of his family involved in the prestigious business, the company now boasts eight stores and outlets.

As for the headquarters of the Birmingham Municipal Bank, they were designed by Thomas Cecil Howitt, who went on to be chosen as the architect for the Civic Centre that is best-known as Baskerville House. They were opened His Royal Highness, the Prince George, on November 27, 1933.

The building continued to act as headquarters replaced by the Birmingham Municipal Trustee Savings Bank until 1976 when the Birmingham Municipal Bank ceased to be and became the Birmingham Municipal TSB. This change had come about because of national policies and not as a result of a desire locally.

Birmingham Council continued to appoint the trustees until three years later when the bank amalgamated with others in the region to form the TSB of Birmingham and the Midlands. A special relationship was ended. Further mergers followed and in 1995 the TSB Bank merged with the Birmingham-founded Lloyds to form Lloyds TSB.

We would like to offer a huge thank you to our sponsors Purity Ale, who have kindly supported us with the drinks for Thursday evenings launch party.

Purity is one of the fastest growing craft brewers in the UK, producing three award winning beers - all of which will be available to sample on Thursday evening.  Purity only use the freshest natural ingredients, quite like our artists!

So please come and sample Pure Gold, Pure Ubu or Mad Goose, or see Purity's website for stockists (

Thanks again team Purity! Kate Eagle