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Mass cancellations at Hit The North Festival

Sports Team, Lang, Noisy, The Goa Express, Andrew Cushin and Hi Sienna among acts to pull out of Newcastle festival following allegations against promoter SSD

By James Hanley on 25 Oct 2021

Becky Hill played SSD's Unity Arena last year

Becky Hill played SSD's Unity Arena last year

Newcastle’s Hit The North Festival was hit by mass cancellations due to allegations levelled against promoter SSD Concerts.

Sports Team, Lang, Noisy, The Goa Express, Andrew Cushin and Hi Sienna were among acts to pull out of Saturday’s (23 October) multi-venue city festival, which was headlined by DMA’s.

A crowdfunding campaign has subsequently been set up by event manager Cole Gilroy to help cover the costs of the artists that withdrew from the event.

It followed an independent investigation into claims of “inappropriate behaviour and bad business practices” within Newcastle-based SSD, the findings of which were released by the firm last week. IQ has approached the company for comment.

In a lengthy Facebook post, the promoter acknowledged it “could, and should, have done better” in terms of the latter complaint, but added that “no evidence of racism, misogyny or sexual misconduct was found” against MD Steve Davis.

The report concluded the “level of familiarity” between employees and Davis had “blurred the boundaries of professional relationships within the workplace”.

“Some ACAS courses were booked for attendance by Steve Davis and other employees with management responsibilities,” it added. “This would go some way to help provide some understanding with regards to the issues related to harassment, equality, diversity, and inclusivity.

“The reflections of Steve Davis are reassuring. He has a level of awareness from this process and these events and will not engage in any contact or conversation that could lend itself to misinterpretation again in the future, reinforced by the fact there is now executive director awareness and oversight.”

This has been a very sobering process to go through

The allegations first came to light in the spring, when they were posted on workplace review website Glassdoor and shared on the company’s Instagram account after it was reportedly hacked by an ex-employee.

In April, Davis announced he had resigned with immediate effect and would take no further part in the running of the company. However, he is still listed as a director of the firm on Companies House.

“This has been a very sobering process to go through,” said Davis. “I haven’t always got things right and if this has affected anyone, I am sorry. I thank all staff past and present for their honesty and feedback which will help the business move forward. I’d like this to be a huge learning experience and I am determined that within a short period of time SSD is being recognised by others as being the fantastic, creative, safe and happy place to work that it now is.”

The company runs four music festivals – This Is Tomorrow, Hit the North, Bingley Weekender and Corbridge festival – and five venues in Newcastle and Tynemouth. In July 2020, the company launched the UK’s first dedicated socially distanced music venue, the Virgin Money Unity Arena in Newcastle.

Kilimanjaro Live stepped in to present this year’s edition of This Is Tomorrow in September after artists including headliner Sam Fender cut ties with SSD.


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