How Joining A Development Programme Changed The Direction Of My Future

In 2016 I was a second year student at Birmingham School Of Acting, and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I knew that I wanted to work in the creative industry, and I knew that I wanted to work in Birmingham, but apart from that I was clueless. It wasn’t long until I stumbled across Beatfreeks’ Southside Producers and joined the programme right from the beginning.

On the very first meeting, I was put into a room full of inspirational artists and organisations who looked to me for ideas.

I’d never been given so much power on something so important before... it was wonderfully weird and extremely empowering.


We were then briefed on the first event we were to produce, the YAY16 Launch, which was to celebrate the start of Birmingham City Council’s ‘Year of the Arts for Young People’. I didn’t know where to begin. All I knew is that we only had four weeks to put on a two-day festival, so we had to work fast. Fortunately, due to the incredible team and support from our partners, we put on a fantastic and memorable event. And it was here that I began to visualise what I wanted my future to look like.

After working on events such as YAY16, B-Side Hip-Hop Festival and Culture Catwalk, my new skills, confidence and networks enabled me to start producing my own events. During my third year of University, I set up a company called Graduates Unleashed, which curates events for creative students and graduates in order to get them into creative employment. I have also been lucky enough to work freelance on a variety of events with lots of organisations and venue in Birmingham. Things came full circle this year where instead of being a participant of the Southside Producers, I accepted the opportunity to work with Beatfreeks Collective’s Free Radical, as the Assistant Producer for Festival Of Audacity (which means I am also working alongside the current cohort of Southside Producers!)

Honestly, Southside Producers changed my life and I am so grateful to anyone who has been a part of my journey so far.


I now have so many goals and dreams to give other young people platforms to discover and showcase their talents, just like Southside Producers did for me. I also aim to work on bigger arts events and festivals in the future, showing the world why Birmingham is the best city to be in. Watch this space!


Written by Grace Smith, Assistant Producer at Free Radical’s Festival Of Audacity.

Southside Producers is a professional development programme for producers in Birmingham to develop the skills needed to produce incredible events in the city.