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LGBTIQ+ List 2024: Sam Oldham, The O2

The LGBTIQ+ List 2024 – IQ Magazine’s fourth annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – has been revealed.

The ever-popular list is the centrepiece of IQ’s fourth Pride edition, sponsored by Ticketmaster, which is now available to read online and in print for subscribers.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, we interviewed each of them on the development of the industry, the challenges that are keeping them up at night and more.

Throughout the next month, IQ will publish a new interview each day. Catch up on yesterday’s interview with Sam Booth (he/him), director of sustainability at AEG Europe.

The series continues with Sam Oldham (she/her), venue director of The O2.

Sam brings a wealth of experience from 20+ years working in venue management. Overseeing all aspects of The O2’s operations, production, guest experience and various contractor management, Sam’s dedication and enthusiasm upholds the venue’s commitment to excellence.  

As the former venue director at The Roundhouse, Camden, Sam was responsible for venue operations, events, visitor experience, sustainability, security, technical and production, special projects and H&S. She also sat on the Diversity & Inclusion Working Group.

Sam’s expertise has cemented her place as a trusted voice within the industry and is often invited to share her knowledge on security, safeguarding and H&S-related panels. Earlier in her career, Sam led operations at Mountain High Ski Resort, California, and was operations director at the National Ice Centre & Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham.

Tell us about the professional feat you’re most PROUD of in 2024 so far.
The work we’ve done around accessibility at The O2 is fantastic and I’m really chuffed that first and foremost, we’re doing it well, and secondly that our staff and partners have wholeheartedly thrown themselves into it. The teams at The O2 have really engaged with this project, and we’ve already had feedback from guests who may have previously been nervous or sceptical about attending a large venue, thanking us for making their experience so seamless. The fact that we are making live entertainment accessible and available to all makes me very proud.

“Diversity and allyship within our industry are so important”

What challenges are you facing in the venue business currently?
Recruitment for hourly event staff remains a big challenge for our industry, in particular in the midst of the cost-of-living crisis and off the back of the pandemic. Our event teams are the face of our business, and having a skilled frontline workforce is absolutely key to us delivering a great guest experience.

How do you see the live music business developing in the next few years?
I would love to see more women and members of the queer community get the opportunity to showcase how incredible they are. Diversity and allyship within our industry are so important, and I hope that in the future we are celebrating even more artists like Madonna and Kylie who for years have been firm champions of the community. 

“I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved so far”

How do you promote inclusivity in your workplace and bring together queer employees?
Our Pride Employee Network Group is brilliant at this. I am one of the group’s leads, and over the past few years, we’ve run a range of events geared towards allyship, inclusion and education. From more serious talks and webinars about personal experiences of being in the queer community to our latest Drag Bingo night with Miss Aisles earlier this year (which was epic!), I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved so far, and we’ve got lots more to come this year…

Name one thing the industry could do to be a more equitable place.
LIVE does a really good job with talks and seminars and ILMC has some great panels – if more organisations can follow suit we’ll continue to raise awareness and celebrate success.

“I would love to see more women and members of the queer community get the opportunity to showcase how incredible they are”

How do you celebrate Pride?
I might nip into Ye Olde Rose and Crown in Greenwich and sing along to a few show tunes…

Shout out your biggest ally in the live music industry.
Helen McCabe and Jay Bourley. They’ve both been fierce allies to me throughout my career and have really had my back. 

Shout out any LGBTIQ+ cause(s) you support.
Stonewall. They’re an amazing charity who I try and support in any way I can. They’ve played such a huge role in shaping the history of our community and continue to influence hearts and minds across the world. So inspiring.

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