A letter to the Rife Community- The future of talent development at Watershed
A letter to the Rife Community and the future of talent development at Watershed
As a valued member of our community and in the name of transparency, we wanted to let you know about some changes we’ve been exploring around how we support young creatives at Watershed – a move that will transition our work to focus on creative technology and film practice and shift away from our current focus on journalism. While we are excited about the future and confident this is the right approach, we are sad this shift means we will cease publishing new content on Rife Magazine at the end of July while we reflect on our next steps. This letter explains the thinking behind our transition, future plans and how we intend to safeguard and celebrate all your amazing work.
Rife was born back in February 2014, when we invited twenty young creatives in Bristol to come and work with Watershed and the creative agency, Latimer Group to explore what would be useful to help with their creative ambitions.
Bristol Talent Lab, as it was called, provided a vast programme of workshops, talks and activities, that all explored what was needed from a successful platform. As a result of all this brilliant exploration, the first version of Rife was created! It was centred on platforming the voices of young creatives in Bristol and eventually, the wider Southwest. It provided people with a platform to explore and produce various projects and allowed them to explore creativity in a supportive, loving environment.
Rife became the starting point for thousands of young people’s creative journeys – their platform, their network, their haven, their biggest fan. Rife also became a place for partnership and collaboration. A place for people to meet, explore, learn, together with other passionate people and organisations, to co-create opportunities and publish work. Although Rife provided a platform, it would have been nothing if it wasn’t for our phenomenal community of people who we got to see flourish and who provided such generosity in their creative contributions.
Eight years on and the landscape of opportunities for young people has significantly shifted. Locally, we have seen the growth of exciting organisations like Bricks, Creative Youth Network, Many Minds, Freestyle Bristol, Knowle West Media Centre, Trinity, CARGO Classroom, Babbasa, Boomsatsuma, Channel4 Talent, South Bristol Youth and Rising, to name but a few! These fantastic organisations offer a myriad of skills and leadership development opportunities, work experience and connection points for young people.
Globally, this has been set against a backdrop of increasing uncertainties including growing economic and planetary crisis’, a rise in capitalist and populist culture, continued systemic marginalisation of people and cultures, and the devastation / isolation wreaked by Covid-19. At Watershed, we feel strongly that it is time for us to deeply reflect on the place our talent development work takes, within these systems and ecologies.
Eight years on and individuals wants and needs have naturally changed and as a community we want to reflect those wants and needs.
Over the past year, we have also been thoroughly considering how we might refocus our talent development work to truly reflect the change in individual needs. This thinking has been informed by business planning with external consultants, our Towards Equitable Futures project, stories of change gathered from Rife Alumni and discussions in staff meetings. This process has emphasised that supporting young people in and around film and creative technology practice is where we can bring the most value, because we can offer clear pathways for people over time. So, between now and Autumn 2022 we are planning to undertake further consultation to:
- Engage, with young creatives, to ask and discuss what they want for themselves, their future and the world they inhabit;
- Explore, with partners, how Watershed can most effectively contribute to the local talent development ecology;
- Investigate, with Watershed’s international networks, ways to enable locally rooted, globally connected practice;
- Reflect, internally and with our Board, on ways to change our organisational structures to be slow enough to care and build longer term relationships with people who feel less represented in our work;
- Consider how we can best leverage our resources such as our building, our expertise, our communities, networks, reputation and values, towards the creation of a hopeful, sustainable, more equitable future.
We have decided to focus our questions and conversations around film and creative technology practice.
This means that new work and important ideas will continue to be developed and shared on Rife throughout July. Beyond that we will no longer publish new pieces but will curate an online celebration of the work that has happened across the years. Then from 2023 onwards, Rife Magazine will remain online as a rich archive with all published content available for the public to browse and enjoy.
We want to emphasise that all published work WILL be available to access, this is particularly important to us as we want our contributors to be able to reference their brilliant work and refer to it as and when they may need.
We are excited to celebrate and elevate everyone we currently work with and those we have supported in the past. Rife is extremely dear to our hearts, and we will hold its values, history, work, community and passions close as we move forward. As a member of the Rife community, we would be honoured to have your voice in the conversation, as we take our next steps on this journey of change. We welcome any conversation people may want to have with us and we hope to answer any questions. As always, we are listening. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
For continued support and inspiration to develop your practice, you can come along to our Make Shift sessions or access opportunities through Film Academy South West.
We hope that the next few months will be a beautiful opportunity to look back at all the incredible work we’ve done as a community. Creating space for those who otherwise may not have had it will always remain at the heart of what we do. Thank you for being on this journey with us.
With love and thanks,
The Rife Team x