Annual report 2014 - 2015

Here you'll find a note from our team, some images which encapsulate the year, some testimonials and case studies, a highlight reel and a learning log. Under an open business model, we seek to underpin our approach with key principles of transparency, openness and integrity.

This isn't about celebrating us. It's about celebrating the work and achievements of countless individuals who collectively make up the Beatfreeks movement.

What a year it’s been! Thank you so much to all of our partners, clients, champions, challengers and the like for a whirlwind year. In many ways we have achieved more than we set out to and picked up some interesting learning along the way! Thank you so much to our ever-brilliant team of staff, volunteers, directors, artists and facilitators for your wonderful vision, insight, professionalism and creativity. Thank you to all of the young creators, participants, leaders, chance-takers, optimists, audiences and supporters for being epic. You drive us, shape us and motivate us - your stories and journeys keep us fighting on. Thank you.
— Anisa Haghdadi, Founder and CEO

thoughts from our partners

HighlightS & Key SUCCESSES:


  • We completed 3 Seasons of BACE engaging 150 young people with our partners In Unity and ASDA Foundation


  • We had a kick-ass Summer Academies programme with 50 young people graduating off the course and a sell-out show on the theme of Blueprint in the Hex Theatre with the support of our partners mac birmingham and Somewhereto_


  • We produced 2 events with BBC 1Xtra and MAIA Creatives - ScratchBeat - which not only saw amazing artists such as George the Poet, Suli Breaks, Becky Hill and Jacob Banks share the stage with young artists such as A2, Deci4Life but also saw 6 artists get national airplay and Deci4Life be featured on a national documentary on BBC iPlayer. Deci4Life also shared a stage with Mary J Blige in front of 10,000 people in the NIA performing his commissioned piece 'I am Birmingham'. Plus Trevor Nelson, our host, wrote poetry for the first time. Win.


  • Poetry Jam celebrated its second birthday and continues to uncover hidden gems from across the city with an audience of between 100 - 120.


  • We paused Soul Sessions after a change of venues and welcomed a new brain child - House of Sound - for a one off season which has seen artists such as The Parades, Soweto Kinch, Kizzy Crawford, Misty's Big Adventure, Tom Walker Trio, Lumi HD and The Mourning Suns be curated into a fresh, chilled space by young host and leader, AffieJam.


  • Our partnership with Apples&Snakes, Birmingham REP and Birmingham City Council bore fruit in the form of Level UP Season 3. Featuring young emerging talent such as Trumendous, Casey Bailey, Antosh, Sophie Fenella, Jasmine Gardosi sharing the stage with nationally renowned talent Polarbear, Kat Francois, Adam Kammerling, Hannah Silva and Joshua Idehen receiving 45% new audiences who had never been to Birmingham REP before!


  • We received 18 applications for Powered By, recruiting 13 of them onto this years cohort ranging from an Academy of Movement (parkour, yoga and dance) to a self-love project to a creative agency.


  • We travelled to Bosnia Herzegovina, with Remembering Srebrenica, on an Artivist trip with 8 young artists (musicians, poets, producers, filmmakers) to hear the stories of the genocide which took place in 1995 killing over 11,000 muslim males. We have since produced work and further shared the stories we heard and experienced in an attempt to raise awareness on the 10 Steps to Genocide.


  • We travelled to Krakow, Poland, where we facilitated a conference for 10 international partners on behalf of Aston University and CITISYPCE on how innovative practices can be used to tackle social inequality for young people. We were named as one of the most innovative practices in Birmingham and took part in a pilot to transfer knowledge and approach to partners in Venice and Krakow which saw us host them here for 3 days. They have since gone on to embed our approach into their projects and initiatives. Cool, right!


  • We consulted with young people in a range of events across the city to hear how they feel about the UK being a part of the European Union in the run up to the general election 2015. We had a great turnout, great conversation and as result fed back to the European Commission and Aston University Centre for Europe on our findings. We hope we can do more in the run up to the EU Referendum. Watch this space____


  • The team changed, grew, evolved and changed again! We said goodbye to Laura Yates and welcomed Leadh Woolley as our Regional Development Manager. We took on new apprentices - Aliyah Holder, Bradley Morrison and Alisha Kadir. We now have a part time Community Network Co-Ordinator, Luci Hammans and 2 full time staff Head of Creative Learning, Amerah Saleh, and Head of Media, Paul Stringer, (who will be leaving us in September...) 


  • We took on 3 work experience placements - Freya, Nikara, Lauren, Tyriq and during the months of June - September 2014 had two interns, Jasmine and Jose, join us for rollercoaster summer.


  • We restructured into Beatfreeks Arts Ltd (a non-profit social enterprise) which works directly with young people through programmes and platforms and Beatfreeks Consulting Ltd (a for profit social enterprise) which co-creates campaigns, stories and experiences with organisations and young people, to reflect our evolving way of working.


  • We designed a pop up project which got support from Bite the Ballot, UpRising UK, Apples and Snakes and BBC WM which picked 7 poets, to perform 7 pieces, on 7 social issues, across 7 days in the run up to the GE 2015 on 7th May 2015. You can watch here.


  • We ran our second year of The Social Exchange in partnership with mac birmingham - keep posted for next year's event on 16th April 2016.


  • New Shoes went into a second season and saw us work with young people from Princes Trust and Midland Heart offering them creative work experience and skills bootcamps to help them build confidence. We'd like to say a huge thanks to Tara Buckley, Suriya Roberts-Grey, Amerah Saleh and Luci Hammans for their hard work! Strange Fruit was a micro-festival which culminated the second season of New Shoes, a platform to discuss taboos in a safe space. See the photos here.


  • BeatfreeksTV had a new burst of energy with our lovely media apprentice Bradley taking the proverbial bull by the horns and whipping it into shape! We now have 7 residents who receive experiential learning and mentoring. We're now on 800 subscribers and nearly 50K views. Not bad going, eh? Our second residency programme began in October 2015!




  • We secured a place on the E-Spark accelerator and have just received news we have been selected to stay on for 'nest' stage which will hopefully see us move into accelerated growth, receive free space and support, and join a community of entrepreneurs.


  • We hustled our way into Voxburner, Europe's largest youth marketing conference, and managed to take a load of performers down and hear from industry experts to top up our noggins with good knowledge.


  • We curated the Connecting Communities Symposium on behalf of Birmingham City Council with our partner-in-crime, Jenny Smith, which brought the 10 arts forums together from across the city to share their successes and also partners from Bradford, Burnley and Bristol to tell stories about their work in using community arts to bridge gaps.


  • We are working with the wonderful team at Heritage Lottery Fund as their Youth Communications Partner. Woop Woop!


  • We ran a revamped version of our Train the Trainer programme which saw 25 people graduate and some who have gone on to receive paid work with us. We have now confirmed will be in partnership with mac birmingham for 2015 - 2016. Next one is 13th and 14th September. See here!


  • Our CEO received the Sky Arts Scholarship 2015 for Creative Producing which see a brand new festival hit the city but also the launch of a new experimental space initiative called Doink (Do and Think).


  • We supported TEDxBrum in curating non-speaker entertainment and our CEO hosted the day!


  • Our Community Arts Apprentice, Alisha, released her own EP 'Statecraft'


  • Our Head of Creative Learning, Amerah, is now resident artist at Birmingham REP Theatre and will be producing a show on Child Bride in 2016


  • Our Marketing Apprentice, Aliyah, is a young producer of National Poetry Day Live (the only Brummie too...!)


  • We became the outreach partner of Creative Alliance's new incredible careers platform, Compass, which means we're delivering 50 hours of creative careers workshops across the city. We'll also be delivered talks on the site. Sign up here


  • We launched our 'network' to make the benefit of our community network tangible and more accessible for others to benefit from. Network meet ups will commence later this year!


  • We worked in 13 core schools across the year including Shireland Academy, Q3, King Edwards High School for Girls and RSA Academies


  • We took a stall and performed at Skill Show in NEC Birmingham. We facilitated Concrete Collective with our partners at UpRising. We performed at the Bearwood Shuffle. We filmed Project Soundlounge. We ran a mini research skills day at Aston University - for the jokes. And the skills. We ran a Summer Outreach programme in 2014 with our partner In Unity taking arts sessions into Weoley Castle, Quinton, Kings Norton, Stirchley and Moseley. 


  • Powered By 2013 participants went on to do cool stuff. Creative Superheroes recruited 12 new people and ran Nexus, a cross-discipline event, at Ikon Gallery which saw 16 artists collaborate live! STAMP set up as an official company - eek! They have gone to run The Art of Socialising at mac birmingham. Bridge the Gap ran a cool intergenerational poetry event on a boat.


  • We recruited our second round of Youth Steering Committee - Heidi, Jasmine, Aliyah, Aliyah, Joe, Amina, Jordanne, Shazmeen, Brenda and chaired by Amerah. 


  • Anisa and Amerah became mac birmingham Next Gen Associates.


  • We were a centre for Festival of Code which bought in 6 people aged 13 - 15 as part of Young Rewired State who created an app which showed the correlation between app and weather in the UK which were presented in a national gathering to industry in Plymouth.


  • We rejiggled Sandbox and relaunched in partnership with mac birmingham, led by Luci, bringing facilitators into spaces to scratch new work and keep their skills in tip-top shape.


  • We were commissioned by BITC to perform a poly-vocal spoken word piece on business in the community as part of their annual awards.


  • We went to Southbank Centre and toured Level UP for the first time nationally! Our CEO was named one of 67 Changemakers from around the UK in the Festival of Love and was invited to speak on a panel about arts and wellbeing.


  • We held a community BBQ for our first birthday at The Edge and launched our new brand who was designed by the epic Rishi Bhardwaj.


  • We formed a poetry collective Beatroot led by the amazing Bohdan Piasecki and supported by Giovanni Esposito. What more needs to be said? 


  • We ran a poetry slam in Croome Court on behalf of National Trust, engaging young people in a site visit and learning trip to understand how the architect, Capability Brown, affected the site and heritage as a result. We held a family slam arguing Capability Brown as a 'Visionary' or a 'Vandal' which 6 young poets took part in 3 rounds. We were invited back to perform for Dame Helen Ghosh, Director General of the National Trust.


  • We launched The Producers Group - 8 young people - who are producing their first mini-festival Sunbeat on 15th August 2015 at Impact Hub.


  • We chaired the Worcester Arts Chat on behalf of Worcestershire Arts Partnership launching mini satellite groups across Worcestershire.


  • We worked in Bromley College - delivering creative careers talks and workshops - to their students and will continue this partnership with a new programme launching later this year, we hope...!


  • At times, we struggled to handover information cleanly, clearly and consistently when changing over the team. This led to confusion, miscommunication and a change in funding. A lesson that definitely hit home.


  • We've worked to capacity seeing us being quite tired and maybe not as top-notch as we'd like to be. Luckily, we've always pulled it back before catastrophe but after reflection, we want to be known for quality not for speed or for being superhuman, so we've taken a minute to build in 'risk' flags into our projects to know when we should worry.


  • Going from no office, to two spaces, is difficult! We are so lucky to have two homes but rhythm and security is important - especially for a growing team. We've learned to think in advance about what we need from our spaces, monitor our noise levels in open working spaces and to try and contribute positively to the communities in which we find ourselves.


  • Turning two brings maturity! We've evaluated our feelings on where we want to go in the future, our structure, our views on social enterprise and sustainability. That comes with real introspection and analysis of the macro-environment.


  • People are GOOD. They are so good. Don't take them for granted.


  • Listen. Listen. Listen. Ask for feedback and take it on board. Don't ask if you don't want to know.


  • Don't do it for the hell of it (unless that's what you set out to do!). We've undertaken a huge social value mapping exercise to really understand the impact we have on people and communities. This is driven by us wanting to move from 'doing some cool stuff in coffee shops' to transformative change.


  • With family you take the smooth with the rough. Our relationships are now two years in. They are rawer, realer, grittier. We're grateful for the people and relationships we have and don't expect them to always be 'glee' style shiny and happy - we want the good, the bad, the ugly!


  • Change doesn't happen over night. Despite our intensive approach to personal change, we're learning patience. We're learning humility. We're learning.


  • Watch your mouth. We've learnt the power of words and the positive effect that reducing swearing can have!


  • It's a bad day, not a bad life. We've learnt to have non-resistance on 'bad days' and to try and accept them for what they are and support each other through.


  • Four coffees a day will give you heart palpitations. Don't.


  • A growing team with growing lines of communication can be tough and mean that wires get crossed. We introduced a weekly team meeting to combat this. Our fav time of the week.


  • Systems and processes are important. We tried to fight it. But actually, it works.


  • We've loved working internationally. We'd like to do more. However, authenticity is really important to us. We're very aware of our privilege.


  • Be kind to yourself. 


  • People are good. Did we mention that?