Sutton Owlfield campaign praised as Big Hoot owls prepare to fly the nest
As The Big Hoot draws to a close, the town’s ‘Sutton Owlfield’ campaign has been praised by the town’s leaders, including Andrew Mitchell MP.
Created to help the town benefit from the city-wide Big Hoot public arts initiative, the campaign resulted in seven of the 89 colourful giant owls being sited in Royal Sutton Coldfield, the largest ‘parliament’ outside of Birmingham city centre.
The campaign, which was coordinated by the Sutton Coldfield Town Centre BID and The Gracechurch Centre, also saw a number of themed activities and events take place in the town centre over the summer, and create widespread awareness of Sutton Owlfield in the press and on social media.
Data collected by The Gracechurch Centre indicates that in excess of 65,000 additional people have visited the town centre over the last ten weeks in comparison with the same period last year. Users of The Big Hoot smartphone app, which allowed owl spotters to digitally log the owls they visited by scanning a barcode, have recorded an incredible 20,000 sightings in Sutton Coldfield alone.
As well as helping to put Sutton Coldfield on the map and attract new visitors, the campaign has also been good for the local economy.
Andy Jackson, centre manager at The Gracechurch Centre, comments: “The reaction to the Big Hoot owls in Sutton Coldfield has been terrific and the whole experience has been incredibly positive. We couldn’t be prouder to have played a role. The Big Hoot has introduced thousands of new people to Sutton Coldfield and encouraged those living here to explore and make use of their own town more. Through a common purpose, it’s united our town with neighbours across the city too. It’s stimulated hundreds of thousands of smiles, conversations and interactions, the importance of which cannot be underestimated.”
Sharif Uddin, owner of Panache restaurant and a member of the town centre ‘Restaurant Quarter’ comments: “We have seen a really positive impact from The Big Hoot, with many diners commenting on the owls and a noticeable increase in bookings over the summer months. I think the whole campaign has helped to put Sutton on the map with people from across the region, and that renewed awareness is rubbing off on businesses like ours.”
Sutton Coldfield MP, Andrew Mitchell who toured the trail with BID manager Mike Bushell earlier this week, said: “The Big Hoot has been a wonderful event and congratulations are due to the Town Centre BID team for coordinating Sutton Coldfield’s role in the trail. Their Sutton Owlfield campaign has attracted people in their thousands, boosting the local economy and awareness of all our town has to offer. I would also like to thank the other local organisations who generously sponsored the town’s owls – The Gracechurch Centre, Dignity PLC, Birmingham Metropolitan College, Moor Hall Hotel and the West Brom.”
This weekend is the public’s last chance to see the owls in their locations throughout the town. The owls will leave their perches on Sunday night to be prepared for the ‘farewell weekend’ at ThinkTank on 10th and 11th October, where all 89 owls will gather together for one last time before they are sold by auction on 15th October. The auction is expected to raise £500,000 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital. For information on the farewell weekend and the auction visit www.thebighoot.co.uk.