Come the Revolution is a collective of black curators, programmers and creatives that have been supported by Film Hub SWWM over the past 18 months to develop their practice and deliver a series of screening events in Bristol and Birmingham exploring and challenging black life, experience and cultural expression.
Why this mattersResponding to demographic surveys of the South West & West Midlands region, a survey of founding members and a case study commissioned in 2013 about Black History Month (BHM) in Bristol, we identified a lack of / a need for more diverse BAME programming particularly in urban centres (Birmingham area and Bristol.) This project aimed to respond to this need.
- To support a cohort of black curators, creatives and programmers in Bristol and Birmingham to develop curated programmes around specific themes
- To develop diverse audiences for diverse content
- To support the professional development of the practitioners involved through mentoring, bespoke support and peer-to-peer sharing
- To encourage sustained activity, in partnership with a wider range of venues such as mac Birmingham, Odeon Birmingham, Lighthouse Wolverhampton, Watershed, Trinity, and festivals such as AfroFest and Flatpack.
- To develop strategies to engage diverse audiences for relevant new releases. For example, Selma, Girlhood, Timbuktu, The Hard Stop
- To foster the forming of a sustainable collective with shared ambitions to curate new and interesting and inspiring programmes and to grow diverse audiences for diverse content
- Through targeted support of these practitioners, they have established themselves as the collective, Come the Revolution, working across Bristol and Birmingham on the curation of distinct seasons as well as working with other organisations to reach and engage diverse audiences
- 100% of the Come the Revolution members stated that being part of the collective has had a positive impact on their professional practice and on them personally.
- 100% stated that being part of the collective had increased their confidence and increased their skills and knowledge and opened up their network
- As a result of the project, new programmes of activity are happening and partnerships are being established
- 32% of audiences for the 1st season were non-white (against 16% of the population in Bristol - http://www.bristol.gov.uk/page/council-and-democracy/population-bristol)
- 96% of audiences rated their experience as brilliant or good.
- 8% of audiences had not been to Watershed before
- 100% are very likely or likely to attend a screening like this again.
- 49% of the audience for The Hard Stop at Trinity Centre were non-white.
The first programme of work from Come the Revolution was a series of screenings, discussions and special events reflecting on the Civil Rights movement and its icons, marking the 50th anniversary of Alex Haley’s seminal biography on Malcolm X. There were 6 titles in this first season which took place as part of the Festival of Ideas: This is the Life, Free Angela and All Political Prisoners, Nothing But a Man, The Story of Michael X, The Black Power Mix Tapes and Twenty Feet from Stardom. Since then, Come the Revolution have supported a number of new release titles to reach a wider audience, including Black Panthers The Vanguard of the Revolution and Miles Ahead. More recently Come the Revolution have support The Hard Stop, with events plus filmmaker Q&As in both Bristol and Birmingham. In 2016 Come the Revolution are supporting BFI Black Star season in Bristol and Birmingham, including Purple Rain at Colston Hall, achieving an audience of 900+ people.
Festival of Ideas, The Drum, Trinity Centre, Ujima, Malcom X Centre, Bristol Old Vic Theatre, Bristol Radical Film Festival, Colston Hall
- Skills Development for the group including budget creation, bid writing, social media marketing and programming.
- Collaboration - working in partnership with one another the assembled group have formed a collective to further their curatorial ambitions
- Audience Development - the programmes put together by Come the Revolution have attracted new audiences to the partner venues and enabled audiences to access little seen content
- "It was a safe space to discuss race and political filmmaking, which I feel is lacking in many cultural spaces.”
- "Knowing that I don't have to be an expert in everything. Bringing what I do know into the work and/or discussions I participate in, is more than adequate since, every step is a learning experience. More confidence in public speaking which used to (and still does) terrify me. I did not expect this to be one of the skills I learned along the way."
- As a result of involvement in CTR and the confidence and contacts gained, one member Esther, was able to secure a freelance position assisting on the National BFI Black Star programme.
What has been difficult
- Time pressures - the group all have pressures in terms of their time so are not always able to make it to meetings
What you would do differently if you did it again
- This project was very much an organic process responding to the needs of this particular group and shaped by them. In continuing this programme we are formalising the format of the support and putting in place a timetable for meetings to provide more structure for the group. In future we would build this as a flexible but structured programme of professional development sessions with a specific planned outputs identified from the beginning.
Awareness / Attitudes
"The film introduced me to a niche of hip hop that I was previously largely unaware of."
"Such a fantastic insight into the life of Angela Davis regarding her political activities."
"This event inspired me to read Malcolm X's autobiography which in it's self is leading me to question a number of things from a different perspective."
" Films like this need to be on more often @ the cinema & be shown in schools."
Demonstrating a model for co-curation with BAME practitioners to create more diverse programmes that reach more diverse audiences
Developing the skills of BAME talent and providing a platform to explore and create discussion around black life, experience and cultural expression through cinema.
Evidence of the venue reaching a more diverse audience through co-curation and partnership
Increasing the reach and influence of the curators through social media
Knowledge & Experience
All members of the collective have stated that through participation in this project and being part of the Come the Revolution collective, they have gained significant knowledge and experience in the areas of film curation, event management, partnership working, social media promotion as well as range of soft skills in presentation, working to a brief, and communication.
The programmes that have been developed by the Collective have provided opportunities for audiences to engage with, gain understanding of and discuss ideas, the world and the status quo, challenging them to think differently and act differently.
What audiences said
- "Really glad this happened, engaging programme with introductions and Q&As, great curation.”
- "I had watched the film recently elsewhere but wanted to watch is as part of a collective shared community building experience in bristol. and it was what I hoped for."
- "Films like this need to be on more often @ the cinema & be shown in schools.”
- "This event inspired me to read Malcolm X's autobiography which in itself is leading me to question a number of things from a different perspective.”
- "Both screenings were great and both sets of hosts/speakers were informative, enthusiastic and relevant - I felt very pleased that I had attended both sessions/screenings. Nothing But a Man did make me feel really saddened though (and frustrated).”
- "This is the right time for such discussions with events in Baltimore and Charleston, to name but a few, raising the question of the lack of change in the mindset of many. The existence of white supremacists is shocking in the extreme.”
- "The film was amazing, very interesting, and the discussion was very engaging. I felt I was learning new things about black power and feminism.”
- "Nothing But A Man stirred up feelings of sadness and anger as the issues of injustice, inequality and just sheer racism is disgraceful and obviously never ever acceptable. It hasn't necessarily made me think about things differently, I would suggest that all people should be encouraged to watch these films, as they are an education."
- "Film was powerful and brilliantly conceived. Discussion was interesting. Great to be in a room of fellow mourners following the Tories' re-election.”
- "The film felt very contemporary and I felt I had learnt something. What it also showed me was that not much has changed in the human condition.”
What professionals, press and partners said
- COMMENTS FROM THE CTR COLLECTIVE:
- "Making new friends who have similar interests and very different experiences/skills from me. I have learned plenty from everyone in the group as well as the Watershed team. The exchange of knowledge and discourse has been affirming and engaging."
- "Things I will take away from being part of CTR: Group skills, mindfulness, creative strategies, research skills, how to meet deadlines effectively, public speaking skills, networking skills."
- "Knowing that I don't have to be an expert in everything. Bringing what I do know into the work and/or discussions I participate in, is more than adequate since, every step is a learning experience. - More confidence in public speaking which used to (and still does) terrify me. I did not expect this to be one of the skills I learned along the way."
- "A challenging but also safe environment to develop professional skills and also raise the profile of what I do as a creative in the public realm. Has opened up opportunities to communicate with other artists, programmers, curators, academics as well as other agencies and organizations to pursue personal, creative and professional development. An inspiring and pro-active experience thus far."
- "Ultimately, this exposure has revealed to me possibilities I previously had not considered at all. Discovering that there are avenues for making a career in this line of work has diminished the anxiety I possessed about a change in career and industry (from architecture and the built environment). In addition, meeting other like minded individuals with whom, I did not really need to explain my love for film to (because they too, hold the same love for film), created a 'safe space' for me."
- "CTR has enabled me to continue to work with Watershed and the colleagues from the South West. It has also opened up opportunities to partner with organisations like the mac, Birmingham. The support from Karen Alexander in discussions about programming has assisted in honing the programme, making it clear what our aims are."