BBC Radio 1's Hackney Weekend 2012 Workshops: Working with audiences to shape events

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Ade Adeluwoye is Senior Audience Planner for London 2012 at the BBC. He reports for the About the BBC blog about BBC Radio 1's Hackney Weekend workshops.

I would have been nervous walking into a meeting with around 50 young people at the Grace Centre in Hackney, but armed with Tim Westwood as my guest speaker I was looking forward to the day.

Our purpose was to meet some young Londoners and get them to generate ideas for BBC Radio 1's Hackney Weekend next summer. As part of the London 2012 Festival, the Hackney Weekend is possibly the most ambitious live music event in the station's history.

It will be more than double the size of other Radio 1 Big Weekend events with a crowd of 100,000 expected over two days and this will be the first time it is being held in London.

Hackney is a young, diverse and creative London borough. Over a third of residents are under 25, there are over 100 different languages spoken in the borough and Italian Vogue recently proclaimed Dalston (in Hackney) as the coolest place in the UK. However recent research by The Work Foundation also indicated that Hackney is in the highest bracket in London with over 20% of young people being classified as NEETS (under-25s who are not in education, work or training).

With this in mind, BBC Marketing & Audiences wanted to approach the workshop in a different way and opted to create a direct dialogue with these young (16-24) audiences. In partnership with Hackney Council we constructed a consultation and audience planning workshop. This was designed to boost audience engagement with BBC content and programmes through involving these audiences in the creative development of the event itself.

Ideas generated by our young collaborators ranged from joint volunteering schemes to promoting local art that showcases the issues of young people in 2012. There was scepticism among some that while the Olympic Games are coming to their part of London they found it hard to see how it would affect their lives. However Jason Carter, Radio 1 and 1Xtra Event Director has said that we don't want to just deliver a concert, we want to have a lasting effect on Hackney after the event.

After a pep talk by Tim Westwood and nearly 30 minutes of photographs and autographs, we started the workshop. A Q&A followed which included a fun discussion about how Hackney and the BBC would compare if they were people. One participant summed up the London borough as 'cool and eclectic' and BBC Radio 1 as 'stylish, knowledgeable, but a bit more ... vintage.'

Numerous audience insights were gained into this audience and this part of London and many brilliant ideas generated. One interesting idea was to set up a BBC Radio 1 Academy where workshops and sessions on a range of subjects including business and career development could be provided for school leavers in the area.

Kim, 17, a former Hackney Youth parliament member said,

"I feel what we say will have an impact, as the event is for young people and they need our views. It was good of the BBC to have Tim Westwood come along too as he's a legend and a huge attraction for young people here."

As an Audience Planner at the BBC, I think it's imperative that we continue to find innovative ways to interact with our audience and create content that resonates with them.

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