2023 has been an incredible year 

As we conclude this year at Be United, a year marked by tremendous growth in our team, our audience, and our creative initiatives, let’s take a closer look at the noteworthy highlights of 2023.

What a year 2023 was for us at BE United! It’s been an absolute whirlwind of a journey, and it’s all down to our amazing team and the talented group of artists who’ve been on this adventure with us.  

Big lesson we’ve learned: stability’s key. We’ve beefed up our crew and board which has set us up solidly for the future and helps us amplify the voices we champion. Plus, our behind-the-scenes tweaks have made us slicker and sharper, letting us zero in on what matters most – our community and the arts. 

The big win for us this year was landing that Extended Fund grant from Creative Scotland. That was more than just a cash injection – it was a massive nod to our mission and hard work. The love from our community has also been overwhelming. We’ve seen our social family grow and it’s all thanks to your support. From empowering young talent in our Producing the Future programme to hosting sell-out shows like the Summer Loving event and the Motherland Masquerade Ball, we’ve set the stage for vibrant new voices in the Scottish creative scene. As we gear up for the launch of Scotland’s first Black talent casting agency in 2024, we’re buzzing with excitement for what’s next. A huge thank you to for the support of our community this year! 

Collin Hills – Creative Director 

Creative Programmes

Producing the Future

Last spring, we launched our Producing the Future programme, which aimed to equip young individuals aged 18-25 with skills essential for event production. The curriculum covered creative programming, technical production, project management, budgeting and marketing, targeting career development in the event production industry. Participants were tasked with planning and executing an original event at Be United, guided by industry experts. They handled multiple facets of event production and benefited from guest lectures which included experts from Fruitmarket Events and Be United’s team.

The PTF programme culminated in a sold-out Summer Loving show in June last year. The show had a stellar line-up, curated by our wonderful participants and featuring emerging Scottish voices from our community. Madcook, AyBangz, and Fifidiny, who performed with our house band, won us over with soulful melodies and lively rhythms, while the dynamic spoken word artist J J Fadaka added an extra layer of magic, creating an unforgettable summer atmosphere.

We want to thank Fruitmarket for providing venue support for both the course sessions and the final event. We also want to express our gratitude to The Robertson Trust for funding this creative programme.

Be United Presents

This year, in association with Sounds of Soul UK, Be United has organised a spectacular music event as part of our Be United Presents programme: The Motherland Masquerade Ball. It took place on the 28th of October in Greyfriars Hall at Virgin Hotels Edinburgh, perhaps one of the most glamorous venues in the city.

The Motherland Masquerade Ball promised to transport attendees to a world of allure, embracing the enchanting charm of Mama Africa and did not disappoint. Attendees wore their most elegant outfits for an evening filled with live music from a diverse line-up of artists, featuring performances from Groove Down, Eyve and Cling and DJ sets from Bayo Master B and DJ Papajgun.

This event served as a platform for raising awareness about the music talent within the Black community in Scotland. ‘At Be United, we believe that the true strength of our creative communities lies in their diverse representation, encompassing all backgrounds and experiences’, said Collin Hills, Be United’s Creative Director. ‘The Motherland Masquerade Ball is more than just a celebration of the exceptional talent from young artists of the African diaspora; it’s a powerful statement that challenges the status quo by giving a platform to voices that need to be heard.’  

We want to thank our partners for this event Sounds of Soul UK, as well as Virgin Hotels Edinburgh for providing the venue. Finally, we want to thank The City of Edinburgh Council as this programme was funded by the Culture Fund.

Be United Casting

This summer, we set out to further develop and expand our casting database and, as a result, organised two casting photoshoots. Despite our studio casting photoshoot being scheduled for a Thursday and the outdoor photoshoot being blessed with rainy Scottish weather, the turnout was great. In total, we managed to sign up 72 members of our community to our updated casting database, and we will be able to launch it in 2024. Due to the steps we’ve taken this year to ensure Be United Casting’s development, we are set to become the first Black talent casting agency in Scotland.

We want to thank everyone who attended our casting photoshoots. Your eagerness and energy made the events really special, and we are really excited to see our talent on the big screen!

A Heartfelt Thank You

As we bid farewell to this year, we want you to know that your support has been instrumental in making our year a resounding success. We thank you for being part of our community!

We also want to take this opportunity to let you know that Be United will be closing for Christmas on Thursday 21st December and will reopen on Monday 8th January 2024.

We wish you joyous holidays and we eagerly await what promises to be another incredible year!

Best wishes,
Be United Team

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