LIFT’s Young Producer’s Programme took place from February to June 2022. Aspiring producers were taught all they’d need to know to stage a live event, and then produced Uplifted as part of the 2022 festival. A mini-festival in itself, Uplifted celebrated creativity and explored the issues they care about most.
Reuben, one of the Young Producers, has been collaborating with LIFT since 2015 as part of our work in Tottenham. Qing, one of his peers on the programme this year who has also been working with and learning from the communications team this year, interviewed Reuben and wrote up his reflections.
“I have been involved with LIFT festival for some time; my performance credits include Live on the Highstreet (2016), OpBlock (2017), Nightwalks with Teenagers (2018), and The Young People’s Rhyming Guide to Advocacy (2020). This year I joined the Young Producers Programme, which was unlike any of my previous experiences with LIFT, as it gave me the experience of actually starting an event from scratch, which is a very, very important lesson to be learned!
I was very grateful that the LIFT team contacted me about the programme that was going to take place and told me it was a good opportunity for me to create my own event and expand my knowledge and skills in different fields. In my opinion, the beauty of it was that a group of very talented, skilful, and like-minded young producers interested in the performing arts worked together for 18 weeks to create something beautiful and make a difference in society where they could.”
"A group of very talented, skilful, and like-minded young producers interested in the performing arts worked together for 18 weeks to create something beautiful and make a difference in society where they could."
“Throughout the journey the people around me became mentors, each contributing something different to my learning. It was an opportunity to meet lovely people and learn from them. And I do believe that some of the things I have learned from it will stay with me on my dream path into politics.
What also really inspired me was the mindfulness of the other producers on the programme who never gave up, despite the challenges and struggles they faced. Seeing their willingness not to give up inspired me not to either. For example, my event was based on the theme of music and travelling around the galaxy. It was a massive blow to me when a key performer dropped out just before the event started. And I needed to quickly put on my thinking cap and use the networking, communication and planning skills I had to find and book a new artist. So this experience demonstrated to me that I should not give up, that I should always try to focus on overcoming the obstacles I face.
My mentors, Mekel Edwards and Patricia Akoli, also had a hugely positive impact on me. They are very patient people, always ready to help. They were always there to answer questions, advise me on how to tackle challenges, and pushed me to do better. They showed me what it means to be a good mentor so I could replicate their example if I was a mentor in the future.
Importantly, I also learnt how to open my mind and look outside the box, to connect my life to the outside world as well as to think about and observe what audiences like to experience at events. If you want to know what a person is feeling, you need to choose to take a step into the audience’s life.
I have no doubts about my next steps. I will go to university to pursue my aspirations to be in politics. Since I was a child I’ve wanted to be a politician to make the world a better place – I know that’s a very cliche statement but for me, as a youth leader in my church, I have worked with young people, and I have seen they, day by day, have lost belief in politicians. Sadly, it’s less and less common for young Black people to say that they want to go into politics because of the negative stereotypes that politicians have.”
"You cannot inspire a person to do something if you do not do it yourself."
“However, you cannot inspire a person to do something if you do not do it yourself. And suppose a person goes into politics with the mindset of making the world a better place. In that case, the future generations will also have a positive impact on society. I will try my hardest to be one of those people in the world of politics that makes a change in the world – I’d love to be able to say I did that.
As a result of taking part in the Young Producers Programme, I have expanded my network. Now, I can continue doing my art and producing, and hopefully, I can develop my understanding of how people feel and how people think so that when I become a politician, I will know how to stand up for the majority of people!”
Rising Stars of the Galaxy
About Rising Stars of the Galaxy
A showcase of talented young musicians playing beats from around the world.
Curated by Reuben Johnson and Jhonattan Goncalves, this evening of live music and DJs took the audience on a journey through the galaxy. Hosted by Archie Backhouse AKA Clive-O.
The line-up included:
Haringey Young Musicians Stage Band
Helen McDonald – vocalist, storyteller, percussionist
The Backdrop Band
DJ Allow Justice