Our YSC (Youth Steering Committee) are the heart of The Beatfreeks Collective, and have been since we first started in 2013 with Suriya Roberts-Grey as our Chair – fast forward to now and she is the founder of UNMUTED, a TEDx speaker, and has just been awarded funding from Arts Council England for her new project in disability and capitalism, Horizontal. This is just one (but an incredible one) story out of nearly 50 people who have been engaged as YSC creative leaders in the last four years.
This year has been a turning point for how we engage with our YSC, with them overseeing our restructure and rebrand – a hefty job that they undertook with skill, passion and care!
We’re so sad that we’re already at the end of their year, but we’re also excited to see where they go next! We want to say a huge thank you for their time and effort this year, and also to share with you a little about who they are. We see this as a list of young leaders in the city who are unstoppable forces.
Grace Smith, 21 (Chair of the YSC)
Over the year Grace has been focusing on completing her degree at Birmingham School of Acting, graduating in July with a first class degree. Alongside university, Grace has gotten stuck into various projects particularly involving events management and the arts, with one of them being Beatfreeks and The Old REP’s ‘Southside Producers‘ – where she has helped produce YAY16, B-Side Hip-Hop Festival and currently Culture Catwalk. Grace has taken the skills and knowledge from all her years of experience and launched ‘Graduates Unleashed’, showcasing what Birmingham has to offer to creative young people.
Next Grace wants to transition into being a freelance theatre practitioner and creative producer whilst always learning, trying new things and meeting new people along the way.
“Being the chair of the youth steering committee has given me an insight into how organisations work. It has given me some fantastic work experience, and the chance to work with some incredible people!” – Grace, @Gracesmith95
Chantel Regnart, 18 (Vice Chair)
This year Chantel has been working on her music & health and plans to take over the world by playing on a radio station near you, and is well on her way – with a collective number of 18K+ streams on Soundcloud under her artist name, Elle Chante, we are very sure that she will achieve this and very soon. Aside from music, Chantel is passionate about mental health and a firm believer in the power of the mind.
“Being at YSC was an amazing journey, it was lovely to see the growth in the company and also the other board members.” – Chantel, @ellechanteuk
Paige Jackson, 24 (Secetary)
Paige Jackson is a creative producer and works at Impact Hub Birmingham as a part of Radical Childcare. Not only is she a fantastic producer, she has skills in marketing and is currently working on the Afro Legacy programme!
“The YSC is one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life, it has made me aware of my abilities and capabilities and has given me the opportunity to learn new skills and essentially, it’s built my confidence to the point where I can stand on my own two feet as a proud young person ready to take baton from the generation to come. I have also found a community of people I know will support me.” – Paige, @P_S_Jack
Josh Sandiford, 19
As a member of Southside Producers, he is not only an avid producer but incredibly dedicated to the programme; which he participates in alongside studying for his A Levels. Although Josh shows his passion in everything he gets involved in, it’s politics that has the biggest place in his heart and shines through within his work – including a blog about the West Midlands Mayoral Elections. After college, Josh plans to go to university in 2018 to study politics.
“YSC has helped me with my confidence, improving my collaborative skills and has given me a better understanding of social enterprise and the amazing things art activism can do.” – Josh, @joshsaniford_
Hannah Swingler, 24
As the acting Head of her school’s Art Department, Hannah has been working tirelessly between being a teacher and and a poet. Over the year she’s been writing poetry, prose and plays whilst studying for her Masters in Creative Writing, and will be featuring across spoken word nights in the region during Autumn as well as being published in the CrossCity Zine.
Next on her bucket list is to produce an arts event that celebrates mental health awareness within both young people and the older generation – building towards her dissertation, as well as juggling a new pastoral role at her school.
“Hannah has loved being a part of the YSC, and has grown her knowledge of event management and producing during the time into becoming a co-creator for Canal & Rivers Trust, a mentee for Powered By and has created her own website. She is grateful for not only the opportunity to learn from such personal inspirations of hers, but also become a member of the Beatfreeks family.” – Hannah, @HannahSwings
Jaz Morrison, 19
From fiddling with a camera back in 2014 in BACE, to helping to produce a part of the Birmingham Weekender – we have seen Jaz flourish over the years. Jaz is currently studying Media Communications at BCU, which plays to her interests of filmmaking, producing content and writing scripts. This year she filmed the BBC community sports awards. As Jaz’s confidence and skills grow even stronger, she wants to start making her own content that tells real life stories.
“Working with Beatfreeks has opened doors to several opportunities and has allowed me to achieve my full potential” – Jaz, @jazmicolon
Nyadavoh Foday, 18
Nyanda is 18 and hopes to go on to study biology at university, eventually specialising in animal behaviour.
This past year Nyanda was announced as Young Poet Laureate of Birmingham. Her skills in poetry have led her to perform at a wide range of events, from the National Holocaust Memorial Day to the National Writer’s Conference. Nyanda hopes to head to University in 2017 to study biology and eventually specialising in animal behaviour. It has been great to see her dynamism within all capacities from work experience in the office to taking the stage by storm.
“It’s been amazing to work behind the scenes and gain a greater understanding of how the events I love to attend are actually put into action. Knowing that I can be a part of giving someone else the same love of Birmingham’s creatives scene that I have is insanely gratifying” – Nyanda, @YoungPoetOfBrum
Ahlaam Moledina, 16
During her time in the YSC, Ahlaam has gained experience in events production, leadership and management through being involved in programmes such as Headspace and Poetry Jam. As a multi-talented artist, Ahlaam has been performing spoken word on the radio and is also involved in the first TEDxYouth@Brum.
“Being a part of the Beatfreeks YSC is one of the best things I’ve ever done. It’s opened up more opportunities for me than I could ever have imagined and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to get their foot in the door, no matter what age of experience.” – Ahlaam, @_ahlaamm
Madi Saskia, 17
Madi is an an asset to the arts, from poetry to music to writing. Madi is currently working on producing her own live show where she will display her artistic talents. She plans to continue with songwriting for artists, performing at festivals and to live & be happy.
“You were born to die but your purpose is not death so find something to do with it and make art and wear your weird” – Madi, @maddiethespider
Rochaé Stephens-Morrison, 21
Since completing her Digital Marketing Apprenticeship in 2016, Rochaé has been experimenting with her music, songwriting and producing. She has been working alongside professional artists within the industry and is currently playing in a live band. Rochaé has performed in local and national festivals and continues to work on her music and to learn new skills and plans to go back to education in the near future.
says “ I have really enjoyed my time with the YSC, I have learnt how to network with artists and build my profile.” – Rochaé, @Ro_chae
Saida Vedasto, 26
Saida is a triple threat; teacher, artist and painter, who is constantly developing her style and working on developing her artistry. As an activist Saida currently works alongside POC LGBT organisation, Unmuted and in the future wants to use her art to make a difference as well as to provide art therapy.
“I loved working with everyone in the team, the YSC has built my confidence and I have new skills working on a 1-2-1 basis at events.” – Saida, @saidavedasto
Josh Grant, 26
Josh’s main objective for the year was to better himself, which he surpassed with flying colours. He has collaborated with Roundhouse Theatre, The Boys Project and more performance artists throughout the UK. He tried something new by helping to organise events such as Headspace and Poetry Jam – he plans to continue on working hard and being more active within the creative sector.
“ Being on the YSC has taught me the professional side of creativity, the hard work, the graft and the work it takes to be an artist” – Josh
Note From Tony Bhajam, YSC Facilitator:
“Beatfreeks has gone through so much growth and change over the last year, and the YSC have been central to that change.
I’m so grateful to them for all of the difficult to answer question and thought provoking comments they have shared with us to make sure we are sticking to our values and mission statement and being true to the young people of the city.
We are so much stronger for their input. Through the last 12 months I have seen so much personal growth in them all, I hope they feel stronger too.”