1. New office
Since the start of Beatfreeks we have had to be super jammy at getting free or low cost space - from being on a government start up programme at the old Paradise Circus offices, to bagging a place on the E-Spark accelerator, to being some of the first members at Impact Hub Birmingham, right through to our collaboration with iCentrum. We’ve been lucky, sometimes opportunistic, and always prioritised the work over the space - we did it in priding ourselves on creating ‘safe spaces’ wherever we are. For the last 12 months we’ve been working towards having our own space as we’ve grown in size and need. We’ve been asking our community and our team different questions to help us find the right space; taking our time and learning about where works best for us. We decided on a city centre, light, new-york-office-lofty-kind-of-space, which could accommodate multiple spaces (quiet places to work, buzzy places to hang out). The perfect one opened up for us at Zellig taking us back to the heart of Digbeth. After 12 hours of flatpack assembly, we’re now in and absolutely in love with the vibes, light and loving that our neighbours are Punch Records!
We’ll be hosting open office Fridays still so if you’re in the community and you want to grab an desk, a coffee and some WiFi, you can sign up and join us.
2. New team
One of the scariest but most rewarding parts of growth is new people joining your team! Meet the latest additions to the family here:
Amy - Head of Partnerships at Free Radical
Sarika - General Manager at Young Giant
Fabio - Office Coordinator across the Collective
Bethany - Creative Practitioner at Free Radical
We’ve also had some internal team changes, you might have seen Amerah’s blog announcing her moving over to be a Producer on Free Radical, or maybe that Bradley is now Head of Storytelling at Free Radical. You can meet everyone here or email them by clicking on their name to say hello!
3. We’ve submitted the next stage of Kick The Dust
This one’s a big update so I’ve written another piece that will come out next week that goes into more detail of the project changes but for now, I’ll leave you by telling you we’ve refined our work, been more authentic to our skills, beliefs and capabilities, and we’ve submitted our stage two bid for Kick the Dust to Heritage Lottery Fund. We hope to hear back in August 2018 and if successful, Kick the Dust will be ready to roll. We’ll be hosting an open session in Autumn 2018 where you can come and hear more. Eek!
4. Free Radical has officially become part of the National Portfolio Status
Basically, big things are coming to the city in the shape of a new festival (we had over 100 international applications for 6 commissions!) and a new artist development programme, #BAIT. Expect new research, new events, new ideas, new artists…
16 - 30 and Interested in developing your practice in poetry, music, digital media? Come and find out more at our launch event coming in May 2018.
5. Brum Youth Trends is on 1086 responses (ish)
This year we set out to double our research sample wanting to research around 1200 young people aged 14 - 25 in this year’s Brum Youth Trends. To make it accessible to as many people as possible we had an online interactive app aswell as a paper version; we still have tons to input but we're almost there.
We’ve just released a save the date for 10th October 2018 for Brum Youth Trends Summit at Birmingham Town Hall where we’ll be releasing the report, and hearing from key influencers and policy makers.
There’s time to get involved before we launch the event & campaign in May. You can:
Get early release tickets to the Summit here.
Join the next tranch of the volunteer leadership team by emailing Zeddie.
6. Free Radical board has changed
I want to express mega love, thanks, gratitude and big ups to our good friend Najite Graham who stepped off the board in January following the birth of her beautiful son. Najite guided us through our rebranding process and helped us hold some very challenging spaces as we’ve grown. We wish her luck and love in her next steps - and remind her she’s always welcome on the mic at Poetry Jam!
We’re excited to welcome the first Chair of the first year’s YSC in 2013, Suriya Roberts-Grey, to the board of Directors alongside Helga Henry, arts and culture consultant and previous Director of Organisational Development at Birmingham Hippodrome. Both mighty in their fields, with bags of energy, ideas and credibility in this space, we’re excited for what they will bring to the table. Joining Karen Daw, Jeremy Walker, Roland Roberts, Casey Bailey and myself, both start this month and we hope to hear from them in a blog soon...
7. We’re revamping the way people join our community
More and more people are joining our community every day but that means we are struggling to keep everyone up to date evenly - we don’t want to only keep people in the loop at events or on twitter, we want to individualise our offers for you as much as possible. So, we’re revamping the way you can sign up to the community. We’ll be sending an email around about it soon - but for now, head over to beatfreeks.com/join-the-community to sign up for free!
8. Going national, baby
We’ve been busy beavering away but were delighted when Guardian and Observer decided to feature us as the cover poster for 50 New Radicals again this year! Find out what we said here.
I also was recently invited to speak to 1000 CEOs and Chairs of Arts & Culture organisations from across England. Eek. It went down a treat with the CEO of Arts Council England tweeting that I was his favourite quote of the day! *blushes*
9. Poetry Jam is making big moves in 2018
From Jasmine Gardosi, Hannah Swingler and Kamil Mahmood being featured on BBC Asian Network on the Mimz Shaikh show, to the birthday special dedicated to our community, to the short stories we made with Birmingham City University, to the incredible documentary we made with Paul Stringer all the way through to the new anthology we launched with Verve Press as their very first collection, Poetry Jam is doing it big and bold. We’re still at 200 Degrees, first Thursday of the month, free, and everyone’s invited.
10. We’re a Collective of companies - but a community first
What I will say is this: Beatfreeks is a community of people who believe in the power of creativity to do the incredible. The companies in the Beatfreeks Collective then make spaces for that creativity to be unleashed:
We help young artists tell stories.
We help brands involve young people in their stories.
We help organisations tell stories about their work.
We are grateful for who you all are, what you bring to this community, and how you encourage us always to be better and serve you better. As always, we’re open to feedback here or through open diaries.
Written by Anisa Haghdadi, Founder & CEO of Beatfreeks Collective.