At the age of just 28, Nicole Crentsil has built up an impressive career as a public speaker, curator and festival director, using the safe space of events to tackle the injustices experienced by both herself and her community on a daily basis. In 2016 she founded her first event, Unmasked Women, an art exhibition and series of talks and workshops designed to act as a catalyst for the Black community to discuss mental health.
Crentsil went on to collaborate with arts institutions including the V&A, Tate Britain, ICA and Southbank Centre, before co-founding Black Girl Festival – the UK’s first festival celebrating Black British women and girls – in 2017. The team behind the event has so far produced a takeover of TimeOut London magazine, along with two annual festivals, and built a growing community of over 30,000 people online and IRL. More recently, Crentsil also founded Big Sis, a platform dedicated to supporting the personal development of women in the creative industries.
Lockdown has been a steep learning curve for Crentsil. Having just launched Black Girl Fest Academy, a seven-month programme supported by the Mayor of London and Today at Apple aimed at young Black women looking to get into the events industry, she was quickly forced to reimagine the academy in virtual form. The experience has given her food for thought when it comes to imagining what events will look like post-coronavirus, but this time of reflection has also made her consider how else the industry should be changing.
Here, Crentsil discusses the need for both physical and digitals events post-lockdown, how her recent experience of being offered payment to speak at D&AD Festival while other Black speakers weren’t highlights what is wrong with the events industry, and why having a diversity panel at your next event simply won’t cut it.