The urban landscape in England underwent dramatic changes during the eighteenth century due to the rise of consumerism and the efforts to meet the ever-growing demands of consumers. At the beginning of the century, London dominated as the capital urban center together with a few provincial traditional towns: such as Exeter, York, Norwich and Oxford. However, during the century, there was a marked increase in the rise of small provincial towns as manufacturing centers, ports, spas and resorts in response to the demands of the public for goods and entertainment. By the end of the century, these new urban centers combined to challenge the dominance of London. Recently, a number of historians have begun to focus on this urban development during this period, and they have taken the earlier emphasis off London.
Birmingham provides an excellent example of one of these towns. At the beginning of the century, it was a small market town in the Midlands, which had the local resources to manufacture goods that were needed both for the domestic market and the export market. It attracted many immigrants from the surrounding area, who added to the work force, which became recognized for its vitality, inventiveness, adaptability, and work ethic. The results of their efforts to produce quality and a variety of goods to meet the needs of the market led to the physical, economic, and demographic growth of the town, so that by the end of the century it had become the urban center of the Midlands.
However, the leading citizens of the town, who had financially benefited from manufacturing, wished to demonstrate their civic pride by projecting the identity of their town as being one that appeared to have a cultured population and suitable venues where commercialized cultural and artistic entertainment could be enjoyed. Some felt that the arts contributed to the good taste and morality of the community, and they also wished to demonstrate their own newly acquired status and mingle with the local nobility and gentry. This study traces the development of music and the theater in Birmingham during the eighteenth century and examines how these arts contributed to the identity of the town as a cultural center, both locally and nationally.
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||MAI 49/01M, Masters Abstracts International|
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