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The women changing the world one event at a time

CHANGING THE WORLD: Nicole Crentsil, centre, is the co-founder of Black Girl Festival

MERCEDES BENSON, marketeer and DJ, runs a platform called SocialFixt, which aims to bridge the gap between BAME talent and work within the creative industries. It started as a Facebook group where the team highlighted opportunities to creative hopefuls, but now it’s taken on a life of its own. Her own experience of being the only black woman in the marketing team at one of the biggest tech companies in the UK inspired her to do what she could to help change the face of the industry.

“In the beginning it was us posting jobs within the group, so any jobs within the creative industry that we’d see across the internet we’d put it in there, and now a year and a half later, we hardly put in anything. It’s mainly the community itself, giving themselves opportunities and taking opportunities from it,” she told Life & Style.

“I think the biggest change that we’ve been able to affect is that we’ve been able to show the creative industry and recruitment agencies that diverse talent does exist. I think a lot of time within the recruitment process there’s always been a gap in trying to source black talent.

“With the amount of people that are apart of our community online, which [boasts] over 5,000 and the amount of people that attend our events, it shows these companies and these agencies that diverse talent does exist, you just have to, I guess, do a better job in finding them and reaching out to them,” Benson said.

The group also holds regular meetups where members can network in real life. Without a formal online presence, Benson uses Eventbrite to promote and facilitate the booking of SocialFixt’s events.

RECLAIMING SPACE: Mercedes Benson, left, with Nicole Crentsil

“For SocialFixt, everything is really organic. We don’t even have a website yet, so I think the next step is to officiate everything. At the moment, we love using Eventbrite as a way to have events and kind of keep our buzz relevant and popping. There’s something about having online conversations but there’s something even better when you’re able to kind of bring those online conversations offline and actually get to meet the people that you’re interacting with,” she said.

Nicole Crentsil, co-producer of Black Girl Festival (BGF), an arts and culture festival celebrating black British women and girls, has used Eventbrite to enable her community to purchase tickets to BGF events and manage the influx of interest.

Having been able to facilitate physical spaces where black women and girls can be celebrated on such a large scale has been one of the highlights of the journey so far.

“I think the biggest change I feel that I’ve been able to affect within the work that I do is the community that is being built,” she told Life & Style. “There’s so many people that are engaging with the work that we’re doing but most people want to be a part of it and feel inspired that they can be a part of it.”

“We’ve cultivated a space where we are incredibly community interested and we engage with the wider community,” she added.

And the response from black women and girls who have been able to be a part of the community BGF has built has been overwhelmingly positive. Tickets are in high demand and get snapped up quickly, which is no surprise when their event lineups have included Diane Abbott, Munroe Bergdorf and a pop-up festival based around Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming.

“The reaction that we’ve had from black women and girls has been incredible it’s been so great to see an idea that myself and my co-founder Paula (Akpan) kind of concocted being well received,” Crentsil said.

With this in mind, it’s a natural step that BGF has plans to expand its reach around the country.

“I think what is next for myself and Black Girl Festival is really to kind of widen the work that we’re doing to really impact more people who aren’t just living in London,” said Crentsil.

Katie McPhee, head of marketing, UK and Ireland, at Eventbrite, said: “We really are a nation of passionate, connected, activists. Eventbrite is a place where event creators like Black Girl Festival and SocialFixt can make their movements real, and event-goers can find others with the same passions too, whether that’s a cause, a hobby, music or more. We connect people and give them the platform to make it happen.”

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