A collage image of young people enjoying themselves at the last Upgrade Yourself takeover.

Upgrade Yourself Festival

07 - 08 Jun 2024
16.00 - 20.00
Lancaster & River Rooms
New Wing

Upgrade Yourself Festival is back, connecting emerging creatives ages 16 to 30 with trailblazing creatives and industry experts. Join us for inspiring talks, workshops, and mentoring sessions plus music and performances!

Across both days enjoy:

  • Free headshots by fashion photographer Kwame Dapaa
  • Networking activations for connecting likeminded talent with I LIKE NETWORKING, an award-winning career platform fostering diverse talent in the creative industry
  • Free food and drink provided by Clement Worrall
  • Live DJ sets from CAFFY (Friday) and CasuallyClued (Saturday)


We advise pre-booking for G16 workshops when you book your ticket to the festival. Workshop entry is on a first-come, first served basis until we reach capacity and those with workshop tickets will be prioritised.


Sounds of Solidarity - Building Community with RepresentAsian 
17.00 - 18.00 | G16
Please pre-book when booking your festival ticket

Discover how music can build community in creative spaces and the workplace. Through prompts and crafts build a collaborative playlist, set affirmations and create personalised badges.

Cruising Beyond Creative Alienation
18.30 - 19.30 | G16
Please pre-book when booking your festival ticket

Strategise methods of reclaiming your narrative, body and your relationship to contested space through art making and games with 'The Spaceship', a mobile fabrial mural, with Jacob V Joyce.

Fashion Illustration Using Sustainable Ink
16.00 - 19.30 | River Rooms

Create unique illustrations from styled fashion looks using CQ Studio's in-house food and plant-based inks and found items for mark-making tools.


17.00 - 18.00 | G16
Please pre-book when booking your festival ticket

Explore how revenge can be used as a writing technique to generate unexpected ideas and reflection with Samra Mayanja and Imani Mason Jordan, two artist-writers bringing abolitionist thinking into their writing practices. 

We're Seeing the Future First - A Workshop About Short Filmmaking
18.30 - 19.30 | G16
Please pre-book when booking your festival ticket

Minute Shorts' founder and CEO Janvier Wete guides you through the various stages of making short films in today's diverse and dynamic film industry, focusing on planning, marketing and distribution.

Manifest Your Dream Career
16.00 - 19.30 | River Rooms

You're invited to think about what your dream career is and what steps you need to take to make it happen, using prompts, words, images and drawings, to create a collage that will map out your journey with Nadina Ali.

1:1 Mentoring Sessions

Drop-in 1:1 mentoring sessions with creative industry experts and trailblazing talent including:

  • Claudia Afranie (Friday)
  • Imani Mason Jordan (Friday)
  • Nate Agbetu (Friday)
  • Rabz Lansiquot (Friday & Saturday)
  • Lord Tusk // Ibz (Friday & Saturday)
  • Leila Dear (Friday & Saturday)
  • Jeffrey Oyinlola (Friday & Saturday)
  • Sophie Hinton-Lever (Friday & Saturday)
  • Jason Baron (Friday & Saturday)
  • Selassie Tevie (Saturday)
  • Tori West (Saturday)
  • Jacob V Joyce (Saturday)

About Upgrade Yourself

Somerset House’s Upgrade Yourself programme is aimed at deepening and widening engagement. Produced by the Inclusive Talent Engagement team, these events and opportunities seek to remove barriers and increase representation in the creative sector, with a focus on young aspiring creative talent from underrepresented* backgrounds. The Upgrade Yourself programme focuses on giving emerging talent aged 16-30 access to skills, experiences and progression routes to pursue careers in the creative sector, connecting to the wider Somerset House programme and resident creative community.

If you would like to keep up to date with the Upgrade Yourself programme and opportunities at Somerset House please sign up to our newsletter.

*The Inclusive Talent Engagement team at Somerset House acknowledges that particular people are underrepresented in the creative sector. Particularly those who identify as: 

  • Ethnically diverse and/or Global Majority
  • Living with a disability
  • Working class and/or from a lower socio-economic background
  • LGBTQIA+ and/or non-binary
  • Neurodivergent  

We also acknowledge that people face barriers in many ways not mentioned above, and we are open to hearing from anyone who considers themselves to be underrepresented in the creative sector.

Access Information

Our ambition is to make this event accessible to everyone, but we know there is work to do!
Upgrade Yourself Festival will take place in G Rooms, River Rooms and Lancaster Rooms at Somerset House (New Wing). The space is on the ground floor and accessible to wheelchair users. There is an accessible toilet close by and all toilets will be gender neutral. There will also be a quiet space and access packs available.
The event will be supported through BSL Interpretation on Saturday 08 June only. If you would like more information or to request specific access support, please email engagement@somersethouse.org.uk prior to arriving.
We are constantly working towards making our events more accessible, if you have any feedback on how we can improve. Please let us know!
Find out more about accessibility at Somerset House here.
On the days of the festival you'll be able to borrow Access Packs from the New Wing Reception. These will contain large print guides, noise cancelling headphones, a copy of the visual story, a document detailing what you can expect navigating your way to the event, and a stress ball.