ConveneChallengeConnect is an accessible and imaginative sector development programme being delivered for the Birmingham 2022 Festival.

ConveneChallengeConnect has been co-created with the region's arts, cultural, heritage and community sector, and brings together our collective knowledge from across the region to deliver the programme, ensuring it is effective, sustainable and useful for organisations, community groups and freelancers.

The programme runs from July to October 2022 and includes a freelancer development cohort as well as a wide range of strategic and practical events, workshops, webinars and Q&As that will be open to all.

Explore the three strands of the programme:

Convene: Webinar & Q&A sessions

Convene is a programme of webinars, presentations and Q&As, designed to address practical topics and themes that through research identified as being areas of need within the sector.

Recorded webinars will be posted on this page for you to watch at any time, and the presenter of each webinar will also host a live Q&A for you to delve deeper into the subject with them.

Webinars and Q&As are open to anyone working in the arts, heritage and cultural sectors in the West Midlands, including freelancers.

Webinar topics will include:

  • Creating work in outdoor spaces
  • Creating and distributing digital content
  • Exploring new business management models
  • Project management
  • Fundraising & bid writing
  • Monitoring & evaluation skills
  • Partnership working
  • Operational delivery
  • Procurement & contract management
  • Finance and accounting for freelancers & small organisations
  • Marketing
  • Charging, pricing & contract management for freelancers
  • Fundraising & alternative revenue streams for freelancers
  • Marketing for freelancers

Watch recorded webinars and Q&A sessions here.

Challenge: Inspiring full-day events

Challenge is a series of four full-day events taking place at different locations in the West Midlands, during September and October 2022.

At each event, the morning will be filled with inspirational speakers and provocations, whilst the afternoon will be dedicated to discussing practical applications of the morning’s learning – and there will be plenty of time for networking too.

For those who are unable to attend in person, we’ll be hosting each morning session online.

We encourage you to attend all four days, if possible. If you’re part of an organisation, you’re welcome to send different staff members – please just register each individual.

Each event will take place from 10am to 5pm, and will be as follows:


What is the future experience of creativity and culture for people in the region?

Keynote: Andrew Lovett OBE, Chief Executive Officer, Black Country Living Museum

Wed 7 September, 10am-5pm

Light House Media Centre, Fryer Street, Wolverhampton WV1 1HT

See full agenda and speaker list for Audiences day



Character, people, histories, and culture make a place. But what does placemaking mean in practice for cultural organisations?

Keynote: Catherine Mallyon – Executive Director, Royal Shakespeare Company

Wed 21 September, 10am-5pm

Stratford Play House, 14 Rother Street, Stratford CV37 6LU

(transport available from Birmingham City Centre)



Creativity is fundamental to our understanding of ourselves and our society. How do we work in a way that values our collective creativity to imagine a more equitable future?

Keynote: Jenny Sealey MBE, CEO & Artistic Director, Graeae

Wed 5 October, 10am-5pm

Sense Touchbase Pears, 750 Bristol Road, Selly Oak, Birmingham B29 6NA



A successful future is collaborative!  How do we harness the power of partnership working to increase investment, share our resources and collective knowledge for the benefit of the people and places of the West Midlands?

Led by: People Make It Work

Wed 19 October, 10am-5pm

Central Birmingham


Connect: Freelancer Development Programme

Connect is a freelancer development programme for 30 arts, cultural or heritage freelancers working in the West Midlands. 

Mentors needed to support creative and cultural freelancers

As part of the Convene, Challenge, Connect West Midlands freelancer development programme, Culture Central are facilitating a mentoring programme. We are looking for 30 mentors with a variety of expertise to work with creative and cultural freelancers on the programme.

You will need to commit to holding a minimum of three one-hour sessions (online or in person) to support our participants in their development between September and October 2022. We can offer an honorarium of £150 as a contribution towards your time as a mentor.

The freelancer development programme is for creative and cultural freelancers in the West Midlands who have historically been underserved by the sector*. They will go through a creative life mapping workshop which will help to inform their mentoring needs.

We are looking for mentors with expertise in:

  • Bid writing and fundraising
  • Financial planning and budgeting
  • General coaching
  • Producing
  • Creating artistic products
  • Strategic planning / business plans
  • Digital technology
  • Marketing and communications
  • Project management
  • Operational delivery
  • Partnership working
  • Monitoring and evaluation 
  • Charging, pricing and contract management for freelancers

Do you have experience in any of the above areas and would like to support a freelancer through the Connect mentoring scheme? Read more here.

Who is this programme for?

This programme is specifically targeted at creative, cultural and heritage freelancers in the West Midlands historically underserved by the sector.

Applications were open to arts, cultural and heritage freelancers working in the West Midlands who identify as ethnically diverse, (d)Deaf, disabled, neurodiverse, LGBTQ+, care-experienced, from a refugee, migrant, Gypsy, Roma or Traveller community, and/or from working-class/ low-income backgrounds, or who have identified as such in the past.

Convene, Challenge, Connect is generously supported by Arts Council England and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.