Factory International launches a new development programme to support Black creative talent

Manchester’s new arts landmark will address systemic barriers Black artists and creatives face within the industry.

By Manchester's Finest | Last updated 10 February 2023

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Image: Factory International

The largest arts development since the opening of the Tate Modern back in 2000, Factory International has announced a pioneering new talent development programme, named REFRAME, to coincide with its launch this summer. 

In collaboration with Apple, Southbank Centre, Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), and Birmingham City University’s STEAMhouse, the programme aims to support Black creatives across the country through training, workshops, creative writing projects, and more.

The new arts complex is set to become a thriving hub for employment, training and education opportunities in the creative industries, and this ground-breaking programme is part of Apple’s global Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI). It also represents Apple’s first REJI expansion into Europe. 

In collaboration with Apple, Southbank Centre, Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), and Birmingham City University’s STEAMhouse, the programme aims to support Black creatives across the country through training, workshops, creative writing projects, and more.

Image: Factory International

REFRAME will begin between March and August this year on a one year pilot reaching 80 emerging Black creatives from low-income backgrounds, as well as hundreds of secondary school children across 21 schools in Greater Manchester, London, and Birmingham.  The programme is split into two strands:

The Residency

The Residency is open to 80 Black and Black Mixed heritage creatives between the ages of 18 and 30 who have less than two years experience in their chosen field. There are 25 spaces available at Factory International, 25 at the Southbank Centre, and 25 at STEAMhouse. This free course runs for 14 days and consists of hands-on creative sessions, as well as sessions led by Apple’s 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.  

Registration for The Residency opens on Wednesday 1 February. 

Inspire Schools

Twenty-one 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 with the aim of developing skills in literacy, design, IT, and citizenship. Projects will take place in this spring term and the zines will be showcased in an online exhibition at Factory International, the Southbank Centre, and Midlands Arts Centre.  

The main aim of REFRAME is to advance digital creative skills and knowledge across the sector, alongside helping people to reach their full potential in their chosen creative careers. In addition, Factory International’s award winning Factory Academy programme continues to help people from all backgrounds to start new careers in the creative industries, working in partnership with cultural organisations and employers across the city. 

Image: Factory International

Randel Bryan, executive director of Factory International, said: “We’re delighted to be part of this new cross-sector partnership to support the next generation of Black creative talent in the UK. 2023 will be a time of enormous change in Manchester’s creative and cultural industries with the opening of Factory International set to bring direct, accessible, and tangible routes into the industry.

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.” 

Via Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, this collaboration intends 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 REJI at Apple, concluded: “We’re thrilled that the Southbank Centre’s REFRAME programme 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 help them develop new skills that will benefit them well into the future.”