City Centre Meet Up Venue

(Connie Wan) #1

Hello everyone,

I’d like to introduce our venue, the Birmingham & Midland Institute, as a space for meetings, meet-ups, events and conferences. We’re located right in the city centre on Margaret Street and easily accessible from train stations and local bus stops. Our Grade II* listed (mustn’t forget the ‘*’!) building has rooms and theatres that can accommodate 2 - 250 people. We also have an in-house coffee lounge that serves lunch and refreshments, plus catering for larger events. Most importantly, we have free wifi throughout the building for our users!

The Institute was established in 1854 for educating residents of Birmingham and the Midlands, focussing on Science, Art and Literature. Education is still at the core of our remit; we hold lectures, concerts and informal day courses, plus we are the home of the original Birmingham Library. We offer membership to the Institute as well and individuals receive exclusive access to our library, Members’ Room and use of our coffee lounge, plus discount off events.

If anyone is interested in joining as a Member (rates start at just £16.50 per year, we’re currently offering 16 months for the price of 12) or would like to enquire about room hire rates, please do not hesitate to contact me:
or call 0121 2363591

Follow us on Twitter @bmi1854 !


(Andy Wootton) #2

Welcome Connie,

I think the people here mainly run 2 different types of event: 1) Business meetings with a profit motive. Obviously B&MI is one of several potential ‘suppliers’ and 2) voluntary community events where those running the meeting aren’t getting anything out of it beyond an opportunity to network. They work fine in a bar when they’re informal, though that may exclude people due to age or religious belief but sometimes someone volunteers to give a public talk, which is difficult in a busy bar or coffee shop. How would our community become ‘suppliers of free lectures’?

The other thing you may be able to help with is informal drop-in space. Many of us work at home or in coffee shops but would like somewhere in town to use as a base. Others are in offices during the day. Is there anywhere members could sit and work without you feeling they were trying to avoid hiring a room? What are the restrictions? Might you offer such areas at a higher membership fee or a daily rate?

What are your normal opening hours and under what circumstances do you open later?

I found my tour of the B&MI an eye-opener, despite having been to a couple of lectures before. The place is much bigger than it appears. Do you ever have open days/evenings to encourage new membership?

(Jon) #3

Welcome to the group from me also!

Is your cafe open to members of the public who are not attending an event? I am often in town for coffee and to do a spot of work, and it’s great to find new little spaces.

(Andy Wootton) #4

I can answer that one. Because of the charitable status of the organisation, the cafe is not allowed to ADVERTISE as a commercial competitor. It is there for the convenience of members and people attending meetings. It feels wrong to me to work there without making any contribution but I think it would be OK to drop in and try it and the membership is VERY reasonable, particularly for us out of towners.

(Connie Wan) #5

Hello Jon and Andy,

We definitely have a lot of opportunities for networking events to take place here as we have a lot of space. However, I am sure you can all appreciate, we aren’t yet able to run these events for free. Andy is right in that we can’t promote the coffee lounge as a commercial business - it is a facility that we offer users of the building. I have considered reserving a space for freelancers to ‘hot-desk’ (I quite like the model of the Moseley Exchange) but finding a suitable space is proving to be difficult as we can never second-guess which rooms will be booked out (room hire take priority) or indeed how big a room we will need to offer.

However, (here comes the hard sell) as Andy pointed out - Membership rates are reasonable and are as follows:

Full Membership: £40
Joint Membership: £60
Country Membership (for those who live 15 miles or more from Birmingham): £23.50
Student Membership: £16.50
Corporate Membership (4 or more people joining from one organisation): 25% discount of the above rates
As mentioned, we are offering 16 months for the price of 12 in September!

As a member you will be able to work in the Library (which is very quiet), the coffee lounge or the Members’ Room. If we find that there is interest in a hot-desk space, we can certainly negotiate.

I also programme our events and activities here and am looking to start a Science Shorts series of talks next year - perhaps based around technology and inventions. I’ll probably post a separate message to see if there is any additional interest. We are aware that the science part of our remit is a bit lacking of late so this is my attempt to kick start something!


(Jon) #6

Thanks both!

At present - being between jobs - I like being able to drop into coffee shops and just pay my way by purchasing coffee. The atrium of the Birmingham Rep is often reasonably quiet and nice to work from, as is the adjoining cafe, Marmalade. Some areas of the MAC are good for this also. I don’t mind background music in general but it can be problematic if wanting to make telephone calls.

The membership of BMI when set against co-working spaces like the Moseley Exchange is very good - it’s around £100 per month now there (and for what you get that’s still great value). However it may not be comparing like with like - hot-desking is a lot easier to set up than co-working, and arguably it’s the co-working that Exchange members are paying for. This requires a number of full-timers to create a friendly working atmosphere, and it’s quite hard to set up that community unless that’s a core part of the mission.

The Science Shorts series sounds interesting, and I don’t come to nearly enough Birmingham events. I’ll keep an eye out!

(Stuart Langridge) #7

I’d be interested in hearing the room hire rates for your various rooms, if you have them available. A couple of other questions, too: is room hire only available to members? (That is, does the meeting organiser have to be a B&MI member?) And is room hire available in the evenings, or is it only a working hours thing?

I’m excited by the Science Shorts idea as well! Perhaps you might also consider a complementary “Technology Shorts” set; you’d be quite likely to find willing speakers among this community for that, if you think there’d be an audience…

(Daniel Hollands) #8

Hi @bmi1854, and welcome to the community. I’m potentially interested in becoming a member - just for clarification, the full membership offer of £40, is that per month, or for the whole year (or, in this instance, the 16 months)?

I’m also interested in your opening hours, as I work full time, so I’m looking for somewhere I can go out of hours or at the weekend.

I’m off work all this, week, so if it’s possible, I’d love to come and have a look around?

(Jon) #9

Good point - the rates on the site don’t specify monthly or annually. I assumed they are annual, given the original post’s wording.

(Andy Wootton) #10

@halfer Yes, it’s annual.

@sil Isn’t technology just science, applied to practical problems, the same as engineering?

WIkiP says, “is the collection of techniques, skills, methods and processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of objectives, such as scientific investigation.” I’ve come to regard what most of us do as ‘computational science’ or ‘information science’ rather than technology.

B&MI was 'Founded by Act of Parliament in 1854, for “the Diffusion and Advancement of Science, Literature and Art amongst all Classes of Persons resident in Birmingham and the Midland Counties,” '
and “the B.M.I. continues to pursue these aims.” B&MI and ‘Brum Digital’ appear to have common aims, at least in science & art. Some of you can even read too.

(Connie Wan) #11

Hello Jon,

I can see how working in cafes (informal, cheap. drop-in) suits a lot of people and yes, it is hot-desking as opposed to co-working that we are able to offer initially. It isn’t really at the core of our mission, as we are not educating as such, but I’d like to think that this contributes to enabling/facilitating and supporting start-ups and individuals in the region.

If you’re interested in our upcoming events, you can access them here:


(Connie Wan) #12

Hi Stuart,

Anyone can hire our rooms - our current clients include the city council and various independent organisations amongst others. Room hire starts at £115 per day (£85 part-day, 4 hours slots) and we also have 2 theatres that can seat up to 250 people (day rate @ £260-300, part day @ £200-225). Rooms are available in the evenings - we usually close at 10pm. We offer 15% discount on room bookings to registered charities and affiliated societies.

I’m really glad that the Science Shorts sounds appealing! Anyone want to offer their services?!


(Stuart Langridge) #13

Well, yeah, but if people came along to a series called “Science Shorts” then I think they’d expect it to be the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, not “how to build a mobile app”. :smile:

(Connie Wan) #14

Hi Daniel,

It is an annual fee! Apologies that this wasn’t clear - another thing that I will review! We are open most Saturdays (closed on Sundays) as we’re only open if we have a booking on that day. Best to call during the week to double check. Unfortunately, I am on annual leave as of 4pm this afternoon but by all means pop in and there should be another member of staff available! My email is connie@bmi, if you want arrange to pop in next week when I return - I’ll be here late on Monday evening.


(Connie Wan) #15

I have visions of crazy scientists turning up with their inventions! That’s the type of thing that I want!!


(Stuart Langridge) #16

We’re more your crazy-programmers-turning-up-with-their-web-apps types, here, I suspect, which may be less interesting to you – but if you get the crazy scientists, I’ll come and watch!

(Andy Wootton) #17

Good point. We need more hardware hackers. Where are the maker-space folks?

(Andy Wootton) #18

First thing I thought when I walked into the basement lecture theatre was that there should be a body at the front being reanimated.

(Jessica Rose) #19

At Fizzpop, BCA and BOMLab, mostly.

(Andy Wootton) #20

There’s a Raspberry Pi thing soon too, isn’t there?