Photo: Black Girl Festival

At Apple Regent Street in London, groups of young women are gathering together to equip themselves with creativity and confidence. These women are part of Black Girl Fest Academy, a new program developed in association with Today at Apple and supported by mayor of London Sadiq Khan. The academy kicked off in late January and runs for seven months.

Three evenings each month, Black Girl Fest Academy fills Apple’s Forum in London with ideas and energy. 17-25-year-old black women hear from influential authors, artists, activists and more. These students are learning the basics of event production — budgeting, fundraising, promotion, and creative design — to bring positive change to their own communities.

Black Girl Festival is an annual arts and culture celebration that has championed inclusivity since 2017, but the academy is just getting started. Inspired in part by the success of Made in LDN creative sessions held last year at Regent Street and Covent Garden Apple Stores, Today at Apple provides a visible space and the technology needed to train the next generation. Most importantly, it provides an environment where like-minded creatives can share ideas without apprehension.

Future event producers: The first Black Girl Fest Academy students. (Photo: Black Girl Festival)

The inaugural group of students applied for the free program in December and successful candidates were announced in a welcome event on January 21. The academy began with a brief to create a local event idea and was followed by three seminars from influential black women.

Author Candice Carty-Williams discussed the experience of publishing her best-selling book Queenie. Students brainstormed how to capture their own stories. YouTuber Nella Rose walked participants through the nuanced skill of creating authentic video content. The Lab provided opportunities to practice creating videos with iPads. Community Activist Tanya Compas delivered an Art Lab on Illustrating Intent. The group used collaborative illustration to brainstorm ways to control their own narratives.

Video Lab: Authentic Content with Nella Rose (Photo: Black Girl Festival)

Following Today at Apple’s established format, February 6 kicked off a series of Skills sessions with a focus on interactive training and development. Cultural Programmer Yewande YoYo Odunubi dove into the details of event ideation. What is a Purpose-Driven event? Who is it for? The questions were meant to encourage deep thought.

Black Girl Fest Academy sessions will continue throughout spring and include monthly networking events produced by course educators and Festival co-founders Paula Akpan and Nicole Crentsil. If you’d like to follow along, the organization has been posting regular updates and photos on Instagram and Twitter. Stay tuned for the academy’s showcase later this year, where students will present their final event ideas.

Art Lab: Illustrating Intent with Tanya Compas (Photo: Black Girl Festival)

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