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The LGBTIQ+ List 2021: Joanne Croxford

The LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – IQ’s first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the inaugural Pride edition (issue 101) this month.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, IQ asked each individual to share their challenges, triumphs, advice and more. Each day this month, we’ll publish a new interview with an individual on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021. Catch up on the previous interview with Zoe Williamson, agent at UTA in the US here.

 


Joanne Croxford
she/her/hers
Wellness & diversity specialist/live touring/tour assistant
London, UK
Linkedin.com/in/joannecroxford
@joanne_does_It

Tell us about a personal triumph in your career.
Volunteering with Girls Rock London and bringing the learnings around gender diversity and anti-racism in my recent work at the Tour Production Group (TPG) has been huge.

We recently had a production manager in the TPG give us the feedback that as a result of the space that production manager Keely Myers and I have co-facilitated, they feel comfortable to talk to their artists and clients about diversity in their crews, and that’s possibly one of the greatest achievements in my career to date.

What advice could you give for young queer professionals?
There is a massive lack of queer talent in our industry and bringing other queer people with you is a chance to make real change happen. Be sure to identify active allies who are committed to getting more queer representation hired and feeling welcome in your work environment.

A cause you support.
3T is one that is very close to my heart as is Girls Rock London. Both programmes really address the issue of ethnic and gender diversity in the industry and offer genuine safe spaces for women, trans and gender non-conforming people of colour to learn about our industry and how to get into it (and thrive!).

“[We need to stop] assuming it is the responsibility of marginalised groups to teach others how to correct the inclusivity issue”

Tell us about a professional challenge you often come across as a queer person.
Having to come out every time I meet someone new at work, or the side-eyes that I receive when people realise my partner is indeed a woman. I have noticed that doors close for me and opportunities have been taken away because I didn’t welcome, nor encourage, the male gaze.

Being sexualised as a heavily tattooed queer woman is tiring! And let’s not even get started on the challenges I have experienced when working alongside members of the trans community in this industry – trying to justify how a colleague decides to live their life to a room full of cis men is literally one of the most frustrating things I have had to do.

Followed by having to continually correct people when they misgender someone. This kind of toxic masculinity is really unpleasant and certainly makes for a seriously unhappy workforce.

What one thing could the industry do to be more inclusive?
Not assuming it is the responsibility of those from marginalised groups to teach others how to correct the problem around inclusivity. We all need to dig deep and take a very good look at the culture we have in our industry.

What does the future of the industry look like?
Many of the new and younger artists and crew that I have been working with during this time are talking about introducing things like inclusion riders into their list of demands for live shows – as well as introducing Safe Space Agreements backstage where people can work with no worry of harassment. This is the future, and I am so excited to be a part of it!

 


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Pride & prejudice: Promoting behind enemy lines

Palestinian artist Bashar Murad is used to risking his life to perform. As a queer Arab and a resident of East Jerusalem, Murad has learned to live with oppression and the threat of violence, both onstage and on his doorstep. Neither, however, has deterred him from openly addressing loaded issues such as the Israeli occupation and LGBTIQ+ rights in the Middle East. “But the more vocal I become about these issues, the greater the danger is,” he tells IQ.

In 2019, Murad took one of his most daring steps when he performed in a wedding dress at an event in Ramallah, a Palestinian city located in the central West Bank. While the West Bank’s biggest draw for promoters is that it’s the only place where Palestinians from both sides of the barrier can meet, Murad says that the mixed demographic is also where the danger lies.

“Probably the biggest risk is if someone in the audience doesn’t like what I’m doing. Audience members could be from anywhere, from all over the country. There are different kinds of mentalities, people who are extremely open-minded but also people who are uneducated and attached to the traditions and the customs that we are taught in this quite patriarchal society,” he says.

Murad explains that each city in the Palestinian territories has different variations of laws relating to queer people. Jerusalem, where he lives, is under Israeli law but the West Bank is under Israeli military law as well as Palestinian civil law, which presents varying degrees of discrimination and legal challenges for queer people. To make matters more complicated, Murad says, some of the laws aren’t representative of the reality on the ground.

This minefield of laws across the territory means Murad is forced to make a risk assessment before booking a gig. While agents and promoters in liberal nations may book shows based on venue capacities, fees and convenience, Murad has to weigh up how dangerous each city is, the make-up of the audience, and how provocative his show should be. However, Murad has found refuge within the realms of the music industry, “the safe place,” having built relationships and established trust with promoters and record executives.

The international showcase at which Murad performed in the wedding dress, the Palestine Music Expo (PMX), is one such stronghold. Though Murad would not generally view Ramallah as 100% safe for queer artists like himself, PMX is something of a haven “free of oppression, for all human beings.”

PMX co-founder Rami Younis has been something of an outspoken ally for oppressed artists and is eager to give queer artists like Murad “a free and fair platform to do the show they want.” When IQ asks what he thought of Murad’s 2019 performance, Younis says: “I absolutely loved it. In general, we encourage our artists to be as creative and free as they can and to not be afraid to experiment. Murad’s show was a big success and a great example for that.”

Murad says he depends on support from alternative organisations like PMX, as the culture ministries are “too scared” to back queer artists like himself – though his talent has been verified by international press including CBC, The Guardian and the BBC. “They don’t show any support towards me because they’re worried about me being gay,” he says. “They fund music videos and productions for artists who have taken part in competitions like Arab Idol but forget about other artists who are carving their own paths and doing things their own way.”

Not only has PMX provided Murad with a safe space in which to deliver his most thought-provoking show, it has also given him a rare gateway to the international live music business and a world outside of conflict-ridden Palestine.

But establishing a platform like this, which has invited 150+ international music industry professionals each year since 2017, is no mean feat in a state where promoters, agents – and even performance venues are few and far between. “People must understand that we never had a chance to develop a proper industry simply because we never had the proper infrastructure,” says Younis. “Developing art industries organically in war zones is near impossible. So, what we do is push back against that and lay foundations for a proper and healthy infrastructure in the future.”

While agents and promoters in liberal nations may book shows based on venue capacities, fees and convenience, Murad has to weigh up how dangerous each city is

From the ground up
“I can’t believe that any queer person who is living in Poland and looking at the news doesn’t feel personally attacked,” says Kajetan Łukomski, a queer Polish artist, promoter and Keychange ambassador who goes by the name of Avtomat.

Poland is one of just a handful of countries in Europe that is yet to legalise same-sex marriage, and already bans same-sex couples from adopting children. As of June 2020, some 100 municipalities, encompassing around one-third of the majority Catholic country, have adopted resolutions declaring themselves “LGBT ideology-free.”

In a campaign speech when he stood for re-election, President Andrzej Duda called the promotion of LGBT rights an ideology “even more destructive” than communism. Elsewhere, the Archbishop of Kraków recently warned of a neo-Marxist “rainbow plague.”

“We just don’t feel safe in our own country anymore,” says Łukomski. “I started carrying tear gas with me on the street, and every time I go out with my boyfriend and we hold hands, we have to keep looking over our shoulder because there have been occurrences of queer people getting knifed in the street. This is why we need to work so hard to change the status quo.”

According to Łukomski, a shift in paradigm is also needed in the mainstream music scene, which has eschewed queer artists like himself. This segregation has forced queer artists to adopt a do-it-yourself mentality and promote their own shows and establish their own performance spaces. Back in 2017, Łukomski co-founded the Warsaw-based Oramics collective, which acts as a promoter, in a bid to “level the playing field for under- represented groups.”

“No one had really thought of that. All of the line-ups were male and there was no real push towards making women and queer people and so on visible in the scene, so it had to happen as a grassroots movement,” he says. “We’ve had to carve out our own space in the music industry.” Developing their own queer underground scene has also been a means of protecting the artists and fans within it because, like Murad in Palestine, Łukomski has to be selective about where he performs.

“It would be easy to go ‘I’m playing in this huge prestigious club’ but then my community may be in greater danger of, say, harassment. I make it a point to play in spaces that I deem safe for my community,” he says. Łukomski says that as Oramics’ reputation has grown, they have had greater bargaining power to talk to clubs about their safe-space policies and line-up balances. The collective has even brought workshops to smaller, less tolerant cities to show queer people how to organise their own spaces – though Łukomski says they had to organise their own security for these visits.

While the queer community in Poland may be safer existing on the fringes, their exclusion from mainstream culture creates a glass ceiling for artists, which prevents them from performing at larger capacity venues, earning bigger fees or securing representation. On a broader scale, if queer people and creatives aren’t able to assimilate with the rest of society, the oppression will likely perpetuate.

Warsaw-based promoter Follow The Step (FTS), however, is sensing some progression in the acceptance of queer people, which is allowing them to expand their portfolio of queer artists. Next year, the company will promote its first-ever show by a queer artist – American drag star Sasha Velour at Warsaw’s Palladium (1,500-cap.) – which FTS’s Tamara Przystasz says has been a long time coming. “We’ve been trying very hard to promote queer artists, but a lot of agents were saying Poland is not ready for it. But finally, people are much more open-minded than they were before,” says Przystasz. “To do something for the first time, after so many hard months, was a huge risk, but we thought let’s just do it, and it’s going well already. We didn’t expect such amazing feedback,” she adds.

Przystasz says FTS are keen to use Warsaw as a litmus test before promoting queer artists in more rural cities. “We are so lucky because we are living in Warsaw and it always works differently with capital cities, but in the smaller cities, it is hard; we have to fight for their rights. Education via music; I think that is the best option for us.”

Kostrzyn-based festival Pol’and’Rock, which has been running for more than 25 years and typically attracts an audience of almost half a million people, has had a little more time to establish a portfolio of queer artists, and hopes to lead by example. Originally inspired by Woodstock, the community- based festival deems itself an outlier in creating a refuge within the country’s conservative society.

Over the past three decades, the festival has played host to performances by queer artists such as Skunk Anansie and Polish children’s artist Majka Je owska, as well as Polish singers Ralph Kaminski and Krzysztof Zalewski – some of which have incorporated demonstrations for queer rights into their shows.

“We want to show Poland as an open place, a place where people can be themselves, which becomes more and more difficult each year,” says Olga Zawada from Pol’and’Rock. Zawada says that the festival has encountered many challenges since the recent government came into power, including reportedly being saddled with “high-risk” status four times since 2016.

The high-risk label, according to Polish law, applies to events where acts of violence or public disorder are expected to take place, though Pol’and’Rock has never encountered anything of the sort. Zawada believes that this is the government’s way of indirectly jeopardising the festival: “I don’t want to speculate on the government’s motivations, but we’re quite unpopular with the very conservative ruling party.”

The high-risk status means that Pol’and’Rock has been required to introduce different safety measures such as a fence around the perimeter, which Zawada says tarnished the festival’s aesthetic as a free and open festival and proved to be a “massive expense.” Does she think that the government was taking aim at the festival’s Achilles heel – its budget? “Yes. The fence was the biggest thing in our budget and from a crowd management point of view it was completely pointless. But the guests respected the fences and even used them creatively, to dry their laundry and things,” she says.

“We want to show Poland as an open place, a place where people can be themselves, which becomes more and more difficult each year”

Against all odds
“Turkey is a place where two times two doesn’t make four,” says queer senior talent buyer Bura Davaslıgil of Istanbul-based booking agency/promoter Charmenko. “On paper, it hasn’t been illegal to be homosexual since 1858, the Ottoman Empire, but it’s still a taboo.”

Taboo is a light way of putting it. Hate speech, violence, and discrimination have already put Turkey second to last on the advocacy group ILGA-Europe’s ranking of LGBTQ equality – no surprise considering that there is no solid law against discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation. Gay Pride has been banned in Istanbul for several years, on pretexts of public order. “Even if a municipality is pro-LGBTQ rights and they want to, say, put on a festival, they wouldn’t dare to do it because of the current political climate,” says Davaslıgil.

According to Davaslıgil, the conservative party, which has been in power for the last two decades, tends to “look the other way” about queer culture, as long as it’s kept relatively quiet. “The discrimination against queer people is not systematic. If Morrissey, Pet Shop Boys or Elton John performed, it wouldn’t be a problem; if an artist’s queerness is not too overt then it’s fine.”

The Boston Gay Men’s Chorus (BGMC), however, was one artist the government could not ignore. In 2015, the Chorus found themselves at the centre of a political storm ahead of their concert at Zorlu Performing Arts Center in Istanbul. Conservative Islamist papers described the group as “perverts” and thousands of people signed a Change.org petition calling on Zorlu’s owners to cancel the show because it would take place on the tenth day of Ramadan. The venue, reportedly owned by a close confidant to Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan who, at the time, was running for re-election and campaigning to get the conservative vote, had reportedly asked the chorus to take the “Gay” out of their name but the group refused. “We weren’t going to let prejudice win… visibility saves lives,” says Craig Coogan, executive director of the BGMC, adding that the group has had the same name since 1982.

The government withdrew their previously issued permit allowing BGMC to perform at Zorlu and no other government agency would issue one. In an admirable display of allyship, the LGBTQ student group at Bosphorus University – a privately held institution, which didn’t need a permit for performances – stepped in and offered the Chorus their outdoor space. In order to keep the group safe, the buses were unidentifiable and the routes that each bus took to the same destinations were varied. Members were encouraged to be cautious on social media, not posting location information in real-time. According to Coogan, the group even collaborated with the US secret service on security issues, and a diplomatic note was sent to the government underlining the importance of the group’s safety to US relations. On the day of the concert, sharp-shooters were stationed around the area, drones surveyed the crowd, and audience members had to go through airport-style security to get into the concert.

The media frenzy, the political tension, and the logistical rigmarole would’ve been enough to discourage any artist from going ahead with the concert but the group found allies in the most unexpected of places. According to Coogan, The Nederlander Organization, which manages Zorlu, were “mortified” that political considerations forced them to cancel their contract. “In fact, to prevent an expensive lawsuit, they paid for the production costs at Bosphorus,” says Coogan. It was not difficult to find supportive professionals to work with. The issues we ran into were political, not with the professionals.”

BGMC hasn’t returned to Turkey since 2015 – the group has been busy touring elsewhere, including other anti-gay territories such as Poland, the Middle East and South Africa. But IQ wonders: could an incident like the one with the Chorus happen in 2021? “As long as this government stays in power, yes,” says Davaslıgil. And would Charmenko ever book BGMC, in spite of all the political and logistical issues? “I wouldn’t think twice,” he answers, underscoring the importance of allyship in the industry.

“Everywhere that we perform is an opportunity to dismantle prejudice and preconceptions about LGBTQ people”

Music as an act of resistance
Queer artists like Murad, Łukomski and the BGMC put their safety on the line again and again to perform in anti-gay countries, but what’s the pay-off?

“Everywhere that we perform is an opportunity to dismantle prejudice and preconceptions about LGBTQ people,” says BGMC’s Coogan. “Live music as a social activism tool works. It did in Istanbul, as it did in so many other cities around the world. I saw the joy and transformation on the faces of thousands of locals. “Music builds bridges, enhances communication, breaks down stereotypes and humanises the ‘other’ in powerful ways. It has the power to transcend boundaries and create connections among people from different backgrounds, languages, and beliefs, and has long been a central part of social justice movements.”

In all three stories, the live music industry has proved itself to be the antithesis of the political wars waging outside of it, thanks to real allyship from promoters and festivals like PMX, Follow the Step, Pol’and’Rock and Charmenko. But what they want, quite simply, is for their respective countries to be recognised for the budding talent, not the conflict. “I want people to know that Palestine isn’t just war, apartheid, and occupation; it’s also music, cinema, art; it’s life,” says PMX co-founder Younis. “There are actual people living here with hopes, dreams, and culture. There’s talent in Palestine and it is just waiting to be discovered. We don’t want to be seen as victims but as equal people who deserve to have their culture and music represented everywhere.”

Pol’and’Rock’s Zawada has a similar message for the international live music industry: “Poland is more than politics and oppression.

It’s important for us to say: ‘You know what? There is this community of people that has a different opinion. There are people who are tolerant and welcoming and accepting, and they would have your back, and everyone else’s.”

 


Read this article in its original format in the digital edition of IQ 101:

 


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The LGBTIQ+ List 2021: Daniel Brown, Birmingham Pride

The LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – IQ’s first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the inaugural Pride edition (issue 101) this month.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, IQ asked each individual to share their challenges, triumphs, advice and more. Each day this month, we’ll publish a new interview with an individual on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021. Catch up on the previous interview with Rach Millhauser, coordinator at Wasserman Music in the US here.

 


Daniel Brown
he/him
Event Producer/Programmer, Birmingham Pride, Nightingale Club, Hare & Hounds, Hooker Club, Disco P*ssy, Glittersh*t
Birmingham, UK
https://www.linkedin.com/in/daniel-brown-676ab3187/

Tell us about a personal triumph in your career.
A personal triumph for my career was becoming the programmer for Birmingham Pride in 2018. Seeing your plans and ideas that you created in your mind in real life: there’s nothing like it.

Being able to make Birmingham Pride one of the most diverse lineups in Europe is the goal for me and I think we are getting there, seeing all these amazing queer artists being their true authentic selves and seeing the reaction of the crowd, in awe that they finally have people that represent them on stage.

What advice could you give for young queer professionals?
If you see a gap that needs filling, don’t wait for someone to fill it. Get your friends together and create that space that you need, you will be so surprised how many people feel the same as you. But also keep at it! The amount of parties and events I have created that have had 20 people attend – if you take it personally, it can knock your confidence. But your next event could be your best, always remember that.

“Get your friends together and create that space that you need, you will be so surprised how many people feel the same”

Tell us about a professional challenge you often come across as a queer person.
Being taken seriously, especially in heteronormative environments. Many people stereotype the sort of work you can produce or want to produce just because you are queer. I’ve spoken with events and venues in the past, who, when I mentioned collaborating, basically laughed in my face. But it lit a fire under my arse to make sure I will prove them wrong!

How could the industry build back better, post-pandemic?
More grassroots nights taking front and centre! I think people now will be so much more excited to see local talent! A more community-based vibe is what I want to see post-pandemic!

A cause you support.
Emerge, in Birmingham, is a youth group for 13-19-year olds who are trans or questioning their gender, identify as trans and/or non-binary. Young people are offered the unique opportunity to support and be supported by their peers. They provide a safe space for conversation, learning and support.

“Many people stereotype the sort of work you can produce or want to produce just because you are queer”

Rainbow Migration supports LGBTQI+ people through the asylum and immigration system. It provides practical and emotional support for those seeking asylum to help improve their confidence and self-esteem and reduce isolation. It also provides legal advice and information to LGBTQI+ people who want to live in the UK with their partners.

What does the near future of the industry look like?
I’m excited for the future, I feel like people are slowly becoming more switched on and understanding about what is needed by an event, especially queer events. I feel another summer of love coming!

How would you like to see the industry build back better, post-pandemic?
More grassroots nights taking front and centre. Events slowly became so much about big names before the lockdown! I think people now will be so much more excited to see local talent. A more community-based vibe is what I want to see post-pandemic.


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The LGBTIQ+ List 2021: Rach Millhauser, Wasserman Music

The LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – IQ’s first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the inaugural Pride edition (issue 101) this month.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, IQ asked each individual to share their challenges, triumphs, advice and more. Each day this month, we’ll publish a new interview with an individual on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021. Catch up on the previous interview with Guy Howes, music partnerships executive at CAA in the UK here.

 


Rach Millhauser
They/them
Coordinator, Wasserman Music
New York, US
rmillhauser@teamwass.com

Tell us about a personal triumph in your career.
I spent many years leaving a lot of myself at the door when I walked into the office or a show. While far from easy, deciding to walk 100% of myself through the door has been a profound relief and quite rewarding – both professionally and personally. Now I feel a strong sense of responsibility to use my voice to push for more opportunities for trans and gender-nonconforming people, both onstage and backstage.

What advice could you give for young queer professionals?
Be yourself. No career opportunity is worth compromising your identity for. One of my favourite words of wisdom came from Lenore Kinder – “There’s going to be very few people that hold the door open for you in this business, so you just gotta swing the fucker open and walk through.”

“No career opportunity is worth compromising your identity for”

Tell us about a professional challenge you often come across as a queer person.
Going to shows and meeting people face-to-face for the first time can be a wildcard scenario: sometimes I’m not quite what they imagined on the other end of that email address. While some moments have stung, I move right along and let my work speak for itself.

What one thing could the industry do to be more inclusive?
We still have a long way to go when it comes to truly including and uplifting marginalised communities. How many queer people of colour work at your company? The answer is usually not great.

Causes you support.
Trans Lifeline and The Okra Project. Personally, I’m committed to donating to trans people who need financial assistance with healthcare via crowdfunding websites and cash apps. The financial barriers the trans community faces when it comes to healthcare is astonishing.

“Promoter versus agent mentality has to go out the window…”

What does the near future of the industry look like?
Promoter versus agent mentality has to go out the window. Currently, in the US, the floodgates have opened but in a patchwork way, making it trickier to route a several-week tour months in advance. We’re responding to differing local regulations in real-time, putting shows on-sale with much shorter windows and facing avails that are few and far between. At the same time, live music has never felt more precious and meaningful.

How could the industry build back better, post-pandemic?
Sustainable touring and climate change need to be at the forefront. No one needs to be an expert to make an impact. Carbon offsetting has never been made easier and there are many exciting new ways to approach concessions, catering, merch, fuel and so much more. Shout out to Reverb for leading the charge on this!


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

The LGBTIQ+ List 2021: Lauren Kirkpatrick, DF Concerts

The LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – IQ’s first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the inaugural Pride edition (issue 101) this month.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, IQ asked each individual to share their challenges, triumphs, advice and more. Each day this month, we’ll publish a new interview with an individual on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021. Catch up on the previous interview with Sean Hill, director of tour marketing at UTA in the UK here.

 


Lauren Kirkpatrick
she/her
Promoter assistant, DF Concerts
Glasgow, Scotland
lauren.kirkpatrick@dfconcerts.co.uk

Tell us about a personal triumph in your career.
Having a helping hand in TRNSMT and achieving the Silver Award for accessibility with Attitude is Everything is a top highlight for me. A lot of hard work went into that project and seeing it from the start to completion was an extremely proud moment. When we first started TRNSMT Festival in 2017, our accessible platform allowed for 100 people, and then, in 2019, we had the capacity for 300 people. I couldn’t believe the size of the platform when I stood on it for the first time. It was almost as big as the main stage!

What advice could you give for young queer professionals?
Never let your sexuality be a barrier to your success. I’m a 24-year-old lesbian working in a department with five straight men, which was quite intimidating at first. It took me some time before realising that my situation wasn’t something to be apprehensive about but, instead, something to thrive from. Nobody else will go out and get opportunities for you so you need to do what is right for you every single time.

“It’s not only down to the LGBTQI+ community to try and evoke change”

Tell us about a professional challenge you often come across as a queer person.
I think for many queer people there is that fear of being likened to a pre-existing stereotype. That is ultimately why I kept my sexuality quiet for around a year until people got to know me without it being a factor. I always worried that I’d be judged for being a lesbian as opposed to my capability for the job. Thinking back on it now, it was quite a challenging time for me.

What one thing could the industry do to be more inclusive?
We need more straight allies to be vocal about diversity within the industry. It’s not only down to the LGBTQI+ community to try and evoke change. When a company supports its employees regardless of their sexuality and gender, it’ll empower people and set a standard across the industry, which will, hopefully, pave the way for mass change.

“I think for many queer people there is that fear of being likened to a pre-existing stereotype”

A cause you support.
Equality Network. They aim to achieve equality and improve the human rights of the LGBTQI+ community in Scotland. They work towards providing opportunities for people to become engaged in making Scotland a place for everyone, no matter their sexual orientation or gender. They want people to live free from hatred, prejudice and discrimination.

What does the near future of the industry look like?
Hopefully more gigs than ever before! We can’t wait to get back to doing what we do best – bringing live music into people’s lives. In Scotland, our last live music event was in March 2020, so we are all so excited to get back into a venue as soon as possible.

How could the industry build back better, post-pandemic?
In my opinion, music is the most powerful form of art and its way of communicating a message can be unparalleled. Having role models in the music business who promote positive messages about diversity and success will make people feel like having a career in music is absolutely achievable no matter what anyone may say.

 


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The LGBTIQ+ List 2021: Mark Fletcher, Manchester Pride

The LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – IQ’s first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the inaugural Pride edition (issue 101) this month.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, IQ asked each individual to share their challenges, triumphs, advice and more. Each day this month, we’ll publish a new interview with an individual on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021. Catch up on the previous interview with Will Larnach-Jones, MD and head of bookings, Iceland Airwaves, here.

 


Mark Fletcher
he/him
CEO, Manchester Pride Ltd
Manchester, UK
https://www.linkedin.com/in/mark-fletcher-a1890689/

Tell us about a personal triumph in your career.
In 2018, I introduced the black and brown stripes to the rainbow element of the visual identity at Manchester Pride, drawing focus to the marginalisation and levels of racism experienced by LGBTQ+ people of colour. This sparked a global conversation that has highlighted the issues and led to the use of Daniel Quasars’ Progress Pride Flag to represent LGBTQ+ communities, recognising and calling out the added layers of discrimination faced by queer people of colour and trans people.

What advice could you give to young queer professionals?
Always strive to be yourself, your whole self, with no apology.

Tell us about a professional challenge you often come across as a queer person.
Over the years, it’s become clear that some agents don’t quite understand the modern Pride movement, how important it is and what it actually means for their artists. My team and I have had to persist despite being shut down and having doors closed in our face.

“I introduced the black and brown stripes to the rainbow flag…this sparked a global conversation”

More recently, seemingly spurred by the desire of artists to support our cause, we’re finding that our persistence has inspired change. Many are beginning to recognise the important social meaning behind a pride celebration and understanding the difference between our events and commercial music festivals. We’ve seen a positive change in more agents and management teams wanting to educate themselves on LGBTQ+ issues in order to better support the pride movement and their artists.

What one thing could the industry do to be more inclusive?
Support queer artists and take steps to recognise the issues faced by LGBTQ+ people today.

A cause you support.
The Keychange movement.

“We’ve seen a positive change in more agents and management teams wanting to educate themselves on LGBTQ+ issues”

What one thing could the industry do to be more inclusive?
Support queer artists and take steps to recognise the issues faced by LGBTQ+ people today.

What does the near future of the industry look like?
Right now, I’d really need a crystal ball to answer this question fully. What I can say is that the world has changed, the industry is fractured and it will take a lot of work to get the industry back to the level that we were used to and famed for within the UK.

How could the industry build back better, post-pandemic?
I’d like to think that the world was awakened during the pandemic. The industry was not a level playing field. I’d like to see a conscious effort made to encourage greater inclusions across the board and higher levels of respect for differences.

 


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The LGBTIQ+ List 2021: Will Larnach-Jones, Iceland Airwaves

The LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – IQ’s first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the inaugural Pride edition (issue 101) this month.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, IQ asked each individual to share their challenges, triumphs, advice and more. Each day this month, we’ll publish a new interview with an individual on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021. Catch up on the previous interview with Laura Nagtegaal, guitar technician and tour manager at MsGyver, here.


Will Larnach-Jones
him/he/his
Managing director and head of bookings, Iceland Airwaves
London, UK/Reykjavík, Iceland
will@icelandairwaves.is

Tell us about a personal triumph in your career.
I felt quite fearless with The Presets and the campaign around their 2008 album Apocalypso. It was a zeitgeist moment for the band in Australia, and some other markets. I was galvanised in my belief in the band’s music and its potential, and my conviction could not be broken.

We cracked commercial radio when no one said we would, and the album entered the charts at #1, hit triple platinum, sold more than 150,000 tickets in Australia across two tours, did all the major festivals around the world, ARIA Album of the Year, J Awards album of the Year, APRA Songwriter of the Year and so on.

I walked over fire and ice with that band. It was luck, timing and amazingly talented guys to work with, and while it was a real rollercoaster, it’s a time I now look back on with real pride.

 

“Your life journey as a queer person has equipped you with more problem solving, truth-seeking, empathy and lateral thinking”

Tell us about a professional challenge you often come across as a queer person.
I often hear of deals in the straight world being struck on the golf course, or over long boozy lunches. This is a world I’ve never been a part of. You won’t find me out boozing with the lads. At the end of the day, I guess I’d rather let my work and my passion speak for themselves.

What advice could you give for young queer professionals?
Your life journey as a queer person has equipped you with more problem solving, truth-seeking, empathy and lateral thinking than many other people. You see cultural connections and musical threads where others may not. Trust and follow your instincts and passions.

What one thing could the industry do to be more inclusive?
More visibility of queer and under-represented professionals at an executive level. I really struggled to find queer mentors and individuals to look up to as I fumbled my way through my early years in the industry.

“The generation of execs who have led out of fear, favouritism and deplorable morals is coming to the end of the road”

A cause you support.
I’ve invested a lot of energy in working with PRS’s Keychange programme over the past four years, striving for better representation of the gender spectrum in the music industry.

I’m pleased that with the campaign in Iceland, the number of signatories has grown hugely in the last six months. Again, as a festival we like to show, not tell. We are always pushing ourselves to be more representational, and with so much talent out there, it’s not hard.

What does the near future of the industry look like?
Without bullies and dinosaurs. The generation of execs who have led out of fear, favouritism and deplorable morals is coming to the end of the road.

I remember sitting in meetings with phones thrown against walls, promoters calling me to tell me “you are nothing,” having strips torn off me about an artist’s physical appearance. I won’t tolerate any of this shit anymore, and I think the rest of the industry is finally seeing that you can be good at your job and still be a kind person.

How would you like to see the industry build back better, post-pandemic?
It’s been humanising for all of us, in a good way. The highs and lows of the last twelve months have given us insight into each other’s lives like never before – Zoom calls with people’s bookshelves, dogs, sweaty post workouts, kids etc. It’s forced us all to prioritise better, and I hope we don’t forget this as we head back to ‘normalcy’.

 


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The LGBTIQ+ List 2021: Nadu Placca, The Zoo XYZ

The LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – IQ’s first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the inaugural Pride edition (issue 101) this month.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, IQ asked each individual to share their challenges, triumphs, advice and more. Each day this month, we’ll publish a new interview with an individual on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021. Catch up on the previous interview with Steven Braines, co-founder of He.She.They, based in the UK here.

 


Nadu Placca
she/her
Global event & experience architect, The Zoo XYZ
UK
nadu@thezoo.xyz
https://www.linkedin.com/in/nadu-placca-bb2b6b32/

Tell us about a personal triumph in your career.
Setting up The Zoo XYZ and being able to bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the forefront of my career, enabling me to meet more amazing people and pass on skills and awareness to more communities across the world.

What advice could you give for young queer professionals?
Proudly be you. This industry hosts an array of talent, characters and personas that stand confidently on our event shoulders. It’s equally important that these people are also recognised behind the scenes.

Tell us about a professional challenge you often come across as a queer person.
My international work experience can be the most challenging, especially when working in countries that criminalise and fail to acknowledge basic human rights for the LGBTQIA+ community. I navigate these countries delicately, whilst proudly loving who I love, these are still developing countries from a human rights perspective, so I use my status and power within the industry to support a more diverse event team wherever I can.

“Consciously, actively and openly encourage and support more people that do not look like you into your spaces”

What one thing could the industry do to be more inclusive?
Consciously, actively and openly encourage and support more people that do not look like you into your spaces. For organisations across the industry, from the top down to grassroots-up. Everyone has a part to play.

Causes you support.
A few causes that have recently crossed my radar are The Oasis Project & LGBT Rights Ghana. Any cause supporting the LGBTQIA+ community on the African continent deserves a platform to be amplified.

The Zoo XYZ is also raising awareness on Black event professionals; supporting all intersections of being Black in this industry through our BEEHive programme that supports Black Event Experience, and the Association of Black Event Professionals aimed at being the voice of this community across the UK event industry and beyond.

“I hope organisations are moving away from theoretical ways of supporting other communities and are actively embarking on change”

What does the near future of the industry look like?
I would like to see more women and members of my community get involved in production and other aspects of the industry that are typically held by cis white males.

We have seen how the use of technology and social media has helped the industry expand and enhance its audience on a wider scale, yet this diversity needs to be adapted to the workforces behind the scenes for the real growth of the industry.

How would you like to see the industry build back better, post-pandemic?  
This forced pause has been time to reflect, and I hope organisations are moving away from theoretical ways of supporting other communities and are actively embarking on change. Real change.

 


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The LGBTIQ+ List 2021: Steven Braines, He.She.They

The LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – IQ’s first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the inaugural Pride edition (issue 101) this month.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, IQ asked each individual to share their challenges, triumphs, advice and more. Each day this month, we’ll publish a new interview with an individual on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, starting with Steven Braines, co-founder of He.She.They, based in the UK.

 


Steven Braines
him/he/his
Co-founder, He.She.They
London, UK
brainzo@theweirdandthewonderful.com
Linkedin.com/in/stevenbraines/

Tell us about a personal triumph in your career.
In terms of He.She.They, being the first events brand to ever be taken on by William Morris this month is insane. Last year, nearly 2 million people tuned into our Global Pride Stream with Beatport, and in 2022 we’ll hopefully be diversifying dance floors in 20-30 countries. We’re talking to buyers from China to Brazil and we’re still 100% independently owned by Sophia Kearney and I, which feels like a result in itself.

What advice could you give for young queer professionals?
One of the ways I had to act was that I wanted to be the best manager and best promoter, not just the best queer one. It’s a different mindset and one that gets me over the imposter syndrome, most of the time, and away from glass ceilings. If you treat a difference as a USP rather than a weakness, you will go further as others will view the difference in that way too.

“I wanted to be the best manager and best promoter, not just the best queer one”

Tell us about a professional challenge you often come across as a queer person.
I literally had people tell me to be “less gay” or to “tone it down because the client is a man’s man”. So, all kinds of nonsense. I don’t pander to bigots; they simply do not get to work with me or my clients and, to be honest, you can be successful and bypass them. Our clients work in 40+ countries, selling out shows and winning awards, so we’re living proof.

What one thing could the industry do to be more inclusive?
People should celebrate difference rather than thinking of anything that deviates from cis, straight, white and male as some kind of problem to be overcome or feared. Our line-ups with He.She.They. are inclusive and intersectionally diverse. It’s really easy because talent and ability are spread diversely, too, and if you book based on talent, diverse line-ups naturally occur.

“The gatekeepers need to be more diverse to allow talent supported to become more diverse”

A cause you support.
The closest to my heart is A Doll Like Me who make dolls of kids with limb differences and other differences so that they can play with a doll that looks like them and they don’t feel othered. Click here for A Doll Like Me’s Gofundme page.

What does the near future of the industry look like?
I think we’ll bounce back. Though some faces and venues may have changed, some talent has kept building over lockdown with streams and releases like Maya Jane Coles or Syreeta. Our own He.She.They instagram following almost tripled over lockdown.

How could the industry build back better, post-pandemic?
The reason more cis, straight, white men play festivals and get signed to record labels is very much related to the fact that the majority of A&R’s, agents and programmers are also cis, straight, white and male. The gatekeepers need to be more diverse to allow talent supported to become more diverse, and, in turn, the audience would broaden too. We found that first-hand with our He.She.They events and label releases.

 


Subscribers can read the Pride edition (issue 101) of IQ Magazine now. Click here to subscribe to IQ for just £5.99 a month.

LGBTIQ+ List 2021: This year’s queer pioneers revealed

IQ Magazine’s highly-anticipated LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – the first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – can now be revealed.

The landmark list is the jewel in the crown of IQs first-ever Pride edition, which was published on Monday (28 June) and followed by our Loud and Proud agency-curated playlist.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

The inaugural cohort comprises agents, promoters, COOs, CEOs, event producers, wellness specialists, tour managers and more, all of whom identify as LGBTIQ+ and, in the face of adversity, have made enormous contributions to their respective sectors.

“IQ received an unbelievable amount of heartwarming testimonials”

In no particular order, the LGBTIQ+ List 2021 is:

Steven Braines, co-founder, He.She.They (UK)
Sean Hill, director of tour marketing, UTA (UK)
Zoe Williamson, agent, UTA (US)
Will Larnach-Jones, managing director/head of bookings, Iceland Airwaves (IE)
Raven Twigg, promoter assistant, Metropolis Music/founder, Women Connect (UK)
Nadu Placca, global event & experience architect, The Zoo XYZ (UK)
Maxie Gedge, Keychange project manager, PRS Foundation (UK)
Mark Fletcher, CEO, Manchester Pride (UK)
Maddie Arnold, associate promoter, Live Nation (UK)
Lauren Kirkpatrick, promoter assistant, DF Concerts (UK)
Laura Nagtegaal, guitar technician and tour manager, MsGyver (NL)
Joanne Croxford, wellness + diversity specialist/ live touring/ tour assistant (UK)
James Murphy, chief operating officer North America, See Tickets (US)
Guy Howes, music partnerships executive, CAA (UK)
Doug Smith, SVP field operations UK & Ireland, Ticketmaster (UK)
Chris Ibbs, agent, CAA (UK)
Rach Millhauser, coordinator, Wasserman Music (US)
Austin Sarich, director of touring, Live Nation (US)
Daniel Brown, event producer/programmer, Birmingham Pride (UK)
Rauha Kyyrö, head promoter, Fullsteam Agency (FI)

“I never imagined I’d be so thrilled to see my inbox soar into triple digits – that is until we opened nominations for the LGBTIQ+ List 2021,” says IQ staff writer Lisa Henderson, who guest edited the Pride issue. “We received an unbelievable amount of heartwarming testimonials from across the business but, thanks to the help of our revered steering committee, we’ve ended up with 20 exemplary individuals who continually prove that diversity is the industry’s greatest strength.”

Full profiles of the individuals on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021 will appear online in the coming weeks. However, subscribers can read the entire feature in the Pride edition (issue 101) of IQ Magazine now.

Click here to subscribe to IQ for just £5.99 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

 


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