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Black Country Festival among nine West Midlands cultural and sporting events set to share £3 million fund

The Black Country Festival is among nine cultural and sporting events in the West Midlands set to share £3 million of Commonwealth Games legacy funding.

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Beverley Knight with Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) chair, at last year's Black Country Festival

Giving an estimated £11.5 million boost to the local economy, almost 700,000 competitors, performers and spectators are expected to attend the events in 2024 and 2025 to celebrate the region’s rich and diverse sporting, music and cultural heritage.

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and the Government are supporting the organisers with money from the £70 million games underspend which is being reinvested back into the region.

The Black Country Festival, which will take place in July, has been given £365,000.

Other events in the Black Country set to benefit include the European Judo Union Junior Cup, which is taking place in Walsall from June 15-19 and has been given £250,000.

A total of £390,000 in funding has been awarded to West Midlands Urban Sports, taking place in Wolverhampton from September 6-8.

And £500,000 will support the Kabaddi World Cup during March 2025 in Wolverhampton.

Aldersley Leisure Centre will stage the quarter-finals, while the newly-transformed The Halls Wolverhampton, will host the semi-finals and final.

As well as staging the group matches alongside Birmingham, Coventry and Walsall, Wolverhampton will also host the opening event as the West Midlands becomes the first destination outside of Asia to host the sport’s most prestigious tournament.

It will feature the world’s best kabaddi players from leading men’s and women’s teams, including India, Iran and Pakistan.

Elsewhere in the West Midlands, £350,000 will support the Birmingham Weekender Festival in August; £145,000 has been given to ESL One - Dota II esports tournament, Solihull, in April and the SuperDome esports tournament, also taking place in Solihull in September will get £250,000.

The Godiva Festival and Reggae Fever - Celebration of Caribbean Culture, which both take place in Coventry in July, have been given £500,000 and £250,000 respectively.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, said: “It was always our intention that the Commonwealth Games should leave a lasting legacy far beyond the sporting spectacle – as wonderful as that was.

“With this £3 million of games legacy funding, we’re turning words into action.

"This money will help us to host the Kabaddi World Cup and will support the organisers of well-established local events such as the Godiva Festival in Coventry, Birmingham Weekender and the Black Country Festival – alongside some new events.

“Collectively, this backing will bring in hundreds of thousands of people to our region, give a welcome boost to local businesses and provide valuable jobs and volunteering opportunities for local people. I look forward to seeing the difference this support makes on the ground and celebrating all that is great about the West Midlands in the months and years ahead.”

Sports minister Stuart Andrew said: “The record-breaking Commonwealth Games in Birmingham was a great success, bringing in millions of pounds to the local economy, and £870 million gross value added to the wider UK economy. This government's aim is to make sure Birmingham's legacy is felt in the region for years to come.

"From a celebration of Caribbean culture in Coventry to a judo competition in Walsall, hundreds of thousands of people will directly benefit from these diverse legacy projects across the West Midlands thanks to the £70 million games underspend."

Councillor Stephen Simkins, WMCA portfolio lead for the economy and leader of Wolverhampton Council, said: “We already know what a fantastic place the West Midlands is to live, work and socialise.

“Following the successful Commonwealth Games, our focus must remain on ensuring that we leverage the maximum benefit for the whole region by demonstrating to the rest of the world that we are a first-class location capable of winning a succession of high-priority events that can help to boost our global reputation and economy.

“The two major events coming to Wolverhampton will provide a huge shot in the arm for our exciting five-year events strategy, helping to secure the city’s status as a destination of choice for visitors.”

Councillor Bhupinder Gakhal, Wolverhampton Council's cabinet member for visitor city, expressed his delight that the city will be hosting the 2025 Kabaddi World Cup.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming men’s and women’s teams from around the globe and to hosting the finals, semi-finals and quarter-finals in our city," he said.

“Events of this scale bring direct and indirect economic benefit and put Wolverhampton firmly on the map as a destination of choice for visitors.”

Kabaddi is the fastest-growing sport in South Asia, and the second most popular after cricket.

Originating in India some 5,000 years ago, the contact sport sees teams broken down into raiders and blockers, with the aim of scoring points by entering opposition territory, tagging an opponent and making it back into their own half without being tackled to the ground.

It is now played in more than 50 countries, having grown in stature as a mainstream sport.