Project to supercharge opportunities for Black creators in Birmingham announced

Birmingham City University and Midlands Arts Centre (MAC) will partner with the Southbank Centre and Apple on REFRAME, a pioneering new talent development programme to support emerging Black and Black Mixed heritage creatives in London, Manchester and Birmingham. 

Posted 24 January 2023

A creative working behind the camera at STEAMhouse.

The partnership, developed between the Southbank Centre and Apple and involving organisations across the UK, will help to address and remove the systemic barriers to career development Black creatives face in the arts and creative industries. 

The ambitious programme launches with a one-year pilot project between March and August 2023 in partnership with arts venues Factory International, Manchester, Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), Birmingham and Birmingham City University’s STEAMhouse. It will reach 80 emerging Black creatives from low-income backgrounds as well as hundreds of secondary school children in 21 schools in London, Greater Manchester and Birmingham, and aims to supercharge digital creative skills and help young people reach new heights in their creative careers. 

The programme has two strands:

The Residency 

The Residency programme is open to 80 talented Black and Black Mixed heritage creatives (18-30-year-olds) who have less than two years’ experience in their chosen field of film, photography or music. There are 30 places available at the Southbank Centre, 25 at STEAMhouse and 25 at Factory International.

This free course runs for 14 days and consists of hands-on creative sessions as well as sessions led by Apple creative experts. Designed in consultation with leading employers, it will focus on equipping young creatives to use digital tools needed for the future and preparing them for the practicalities of a career in the arts.

During the course, participants will be invited to creatively respond to the climate emergency, to global issues of climate justice, and to the challenges it poses for theirs and future generations, including its impact on young people’s mental health.

Their work in film, audio and photography will be presented at the Southbank Centre in August as part of its summer season of multi-artform programming focussing on the climate emergency.

For more information on The Residency and how to register click on the link here.

Inspire Schools 

21 secondary schools based in communities that are historically underserved by cultural organisations in London, Greater Manchester and Birmingham, will work with artists, graphic designers, illustrators and climate experts to design their own response to the climate emergency and its effect on them and their communities. 

Participating schools will be asked to create a zine, linking its content to one of the UN’s Sustainability Goals. Each zine will feature poetry, illustration and creative writing and will be a classroom-based project, developing skills in literacy, design, IT and citizenship.

Projects will take place in the Spring 2023 term and the zines will be showcased in an online exhibition at the Southbank Centre, Factory International and Midlands Arts Centre. 

For more information on Inspire Schools and how to take part click on the link here.

Registration for The Residency opens on Wednesday 1 February.

The ground-breaking programme is part of Apple’s global Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI) — and represents Apple’s first REJI expansion into Europe.

Through Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, this collaboration aims to inspire future generations to take part in building a cultural legacy for the UK. The project aligns with the Arts Council England’s Let’s Create Strategy and the UK Government’s Levelling Up agenda, which strives to build sustainable cultural communities across the country.

Alisha Johnson Wilder, Director of Racial Justice Equity Initiative at Apple,said: "We’re thrilled that the Southbank Centre’s REFRAME program continues to take shape with the selection of new partners in London, Manchester and Birmingham. We believe the opportunities for young Black talent are boundless. This new program aims to unlock their extraordinary creative potential and will help them develop new skills that will benefit them well into the future.

Alexandra Brierley, Director of Creative Learning at the Southbank Centre, said: “We’re honoured that the Southbank Centre and its partners in Manchester and Birmingham will be the first Apple REJI funded partnership in Europe. We believe that everyone should have equal access to art and creativity. We’ll track the onward journeys of the 80 participants in The Residency at the end of the project to ensure that at least 85% have been signposted into further education or employment opportunities, and we will build a network of relevant cultural and skills development partners who will support this legacy.”

Professor Julian Beer, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Innovation and Enterprise, added: "As part of Birmingham City University’s STEAMhouse we are thrilled to be a part of the REFRAME initiative which aligns perfectly with BCU values of inclusivity and diversity. This pioneering talent development programme will provide invaluable support and resources to emerging Black and Black Mixed heritage creatives from low-income backgrounds. This programme, in partnership with the Southbank Centre and Apple, will help local artists to reach new heights in their creative careers and make a meaningful impact on society."

Sonya Russell-Saunders, Head of Creative Learning at MAC, added: "MAC is delighted to be a delivery hub partner for Birmingham, offering children and young people in the city a chance to upskill with leading tech industry professionals, to empower the next generation of creative digital thinkers.

Randel Bryan, Executive Director of Factory International, said: “We’re delighted to be part of this new cross-sector partnership with Apple and the Southbank Centre to support the next generation of Black creative talent in the UK. Through partnerships such as these, Factory International is committed to bringing new and diverse voices into the creative sector, supporting the talent of tomorrow to show exactly what they’re made of.