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LGBTIQ+ List 2023: Adem Holness, Southbank Centre

The LGBTIQ+ List 2023 – IQ Magazine’s third 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 third 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. Check out yesterday’s profile with Amy Greig, booking agent at Runway Artists in the UK.

The series continues with Adem Holness (he/they), head of contemporary music at Southbank Centre in London, UK.

Having been responsible for arts and cultural organisations; talent development programmes; live music festivals, tours, and gigs, Adem specialises in enabling the ambitions of music artists and creatives from diverse backgrounds to realise ambitious contemporary music programmes. As music curator at the Horniman Museum & Gardens, he led the award-winning 696 programme and festival celebrating Black British music and the sounds of south London.

Adem is a fellow of Clore Leadership, the Royal Society of Arts, and PRS Foundation’s Power Up scheme, an award-winning initiative supporting Black music creators and industry professionals to address anti-Black racism and racial disparities in the music sector.


Tell us about the professional feat you’re most PROUD of in 2023 so far.
Straight in with a pun, love it. Well, I’m right in the middle of delivering Christine & The Queens’ Meltdown. Meltdown is the longest-running artist-curated festival in the world. Chris is the youngest-ever curator. With this being my first Meltdown, having only started at Southbank less than a year ago, it’s been amazing for the two of us silly queer kids to make something that we both feel really proud of. We want the festival to feel really fun and have huge amounts of imagination, with artists that we both love. There are loads of queer artists, creatives, and collectives at the festival, so definitely something I feel proud of.

Name one queer act you’re itching to see live this year.
Am I allowed to say one of my own shows? Is that bad? Because it’s Honey Dijon. We’ve got her doing a huge takeover of our site in September, including her performing with an orchestra – it’s going to be wild! If I’m not allowed to say one of mine, I’d say Iniko. I think they’re incredible. They give me a glimpse of the queer future and I would love to see them live.

“We need you – as you are – in our industry. We need your perspective, ideas, and imagination”

What advice could you give to young queer professionals?
Be yourself and find a good support network outside of work. So, if it’s ever uncomfortable and scary to show up to work authentically, you’ve got people outside who can charge you back up. Because we need you – as you are – in our industry. We need your perspective, ideas, and imagination.

What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?
Contacting an artist’s management that I didn’t hold the relationship with and nearly getting a major show pulled as a result. Big squeaky bum time. But I learned the power of good relationships in our business and not overstepping. In a way, I feel like we should all be making mistakes all the time because failing is how we learn. Ideally, not huge mistakes that cancel gigs or destroy our industry but small things along the way that mean we can each get better and refine what we do.

In terms of challenges in the industry, what’s currently keeping you up at night?
Ticket sales! Particularly for the smaller- to mid-level acts. There is so much amazing activity in London this summer and I feel really proud to be in one of the most exciting music scenes in the world. I just hope that we are protecting enough space for people at the grassroots and emerging levels to be able to build amazing careers.

“I’m so excited by the new generation of leaders that are coming through and helping to create a more inclusive landscape”

How do you see the live music business developing in the next few years?
I do genuinely believe we are on a journey to becoming more inclusive. I think we’ve got a way to go but I feel really hopeful that we’re getting there.

Name one thing you’d like to see the live music business change.
I’m so excited by the new generation of leaders that are coming through and helping to create a more inclusive landscape. For example, I feel really proud to have been a part of Power Up, an initiative confounded by Ben Wynter and the PRS Foundation powering up Black music artists and professionals. So, I’d like to see more people from my communities in leadership positions.

Name one thing the industry could do to be a more equitable place.
I think it comes back to the question about making mistakes. One thing that we could all do is recognise that it’s okay [that] we’re not all getting everything right all the time. By being open to trying things differently and seeing what makes a wider variety of people able to do their best at work, I think we can create a more equitable work environment. I know sometimes people who might already feel comfortable in an environment worry that changing the setup to welcome others might alienate those who are already doing well. What I want is for all of us, everyone, to feel comfortable and confident at work. It’s okay that we’re not there right now if we’re open to experimenting and trying new things to see how we can get to a place where we’re all having a great time and putting on great gigs.

Do you support any LGBTIQ+ causes?
I have to shout out The Chateau, which was a queer venue in southeast London, and we are bringing it back for the opening night of Christine and the Queens’ Meltdown. Bring back The Chateau!

 


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LGBTIQ+ List 2023: Meet this year’s queer pioneers

IQ Magazine has revealed the LGBTIQ+ List 2023 – the third annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business.

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

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2023 – as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee – are individuals that have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

The third instalment comprises agents, promoters, tour managers, marketing executives, consultants, founders and more – all of whom identify as LGBTIQ+ and, in the face of adversity, have made enormous contributions to their respective sectors.

In alphabetical order, the LGBTIQ+ List 2023 is:

Christina Austin, music agent, United Talent Agency (UK)
Hila Aviran, director of entertainment & tours, PixMob (US)
Johanna Beckman, senior creative curator and promoter, FKP Scorpio Sweden (SE)
Amy Greig, booking agent, Runway Artists (UK)
Adem Holness, head of contemporary music, Southbank Centre (UK)
Kane Kete, client development manager, Ticketmaster (AU)
Ippei Kimura, booking/marketing/tour manager, Creativeman Productions (JP)
Katherine Koranteng, marketing & campaigns manager, Festival Republic (UK)
Stefan Lehmkuhl, freelance curator & live entertainment consultant, BMG/Ruined My Rainbow (DE)
Lucy Mackenzie McNae, tour manager (Josef, Twin Atlantic), Two and a Half TMs (UK)
Saskhia Menendez, innovator at Keychange, board of directors at F-List Music (UK)
Dev Mistry, global internal comms manager, DICE (UK)
Frederik Diness Ove, founder, Queer Music Agency (DK)
Boyan Pinter (Boiadjiev), founder/director, SPIKE Bulgarian Music Showcase (BG)
Scott Robson, event manager, ASM Global (UK)
Roman Samotný, director, Queer Slovakia (SK)
Marie-Christine Scheffold, senior booking agent manager, Selective Artists (DE)
Karim Siddiqui, senior booking manager, Live Nation (US)
Areti Tziorta, marketing manager, TEG Europe (UK)
João Pedro Viana, music agent, WME (UK)

Throughout the next month, IQ will be publishing full-length interviews with each person on the LGBTIQ+ List 2023.

Subscribers can read the full Pride edition now. Click here to subscribe to IQ from less than £8 a month – or see what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below.

Check out 2022’s cohort of queer pioneers here, and 2021’s cohort here.

Christine and the Queens to curate Meltdown 2023

French singer-songwriter Christine and the Queens has been announced as the curator of Southbank Centre’s 2023 Meltdown Festival.

The 34-year-old, who will become the youngest curator in the music, arts and culture festival’s history, will invite artists who have shaped his musical identity to perform on the stages of the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room in London from 9-18 June next year. The first confirmed names will be revealed in the spring.

Christine and the Queens will make his debut at the Southbank Centre tonight, having sold out the Royal Festival Hall for a one-off special as his new, experimental persona, Redcar. The show will see him perform his new album, Redcar les adorables étoiles, in the first instalment in a series of new projects slated for 2023.

“We are incredibly excited to be working with such an ambitious artist”

“Chris will be the youngest-ever curator of Meltdown in its 27-year history, an incredible testament to his international pop prowess,” says Adem Holness, head of contemporary music at the Southbank Centre. “We are incredibly excited to be working with such an ambitious artist who, I am sure, will show us all what more Meltdown can be as a festival and a celebration.”

This year’s Meltdown was curated by Grace Jones, who delivered the second highest grossing edition of the festival after The Cure’s Robert Smith in 2018. Other artists to have curated the festival include David Bowie, Yoko Ono, Patti Smith, Nick Cave, Lee Scratch Perry and Jarvis Cocker.

“Meltdown not only allows us to understand the passions of an artist, but uniquely to see them come to life as a fully-formed festival across the Southbank,” adds Southbank Centre artistic director Mark Ball. “And to get inside Chris’s imagination – an artist whose ideas and inspiration comes from his politics, his history and identity, his love of theatricality and of transgressive underground culture – will be an incredible musical treat for audiences.”

 


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London’s Southbank Centre hires Adem Holness

London’s Southbank Centre has appointed Adem Holness as head of contemporary music.

Currently relationship manager (music) at Arts Council England and programme consultant at the Dugdale Arts Centre in Enfield, Adem will join the Southbank Centre’s artistic programming team in mid-September.

Leading the venue’s contemporary music team, Holness will be responsible for curating and overseeing the delivery of 150-plus music events, including the annual artist-curated Meltdown festival and supporting the interdisciplinary experimentation series Purcell Sessions, which launched in September 2021.

“I am beyond thrilled to be joining the team at the Southbank Centre,” says Holness. “As a Londoner, the Southbank Centre has always felt like our hub for groundbreaking music and creativity. So I feel deeply honoured to have the opportunity to help it continue to create space for contemporary music that reflects our city, country and international family. I am so excited to collaborate with artists, creatives, colleagues and partners to dream up new ways for people to experience live music.”

“Adem will certainly take our world renowned gigs and series to the next level”

Holness will also be focused on building new relationships with artists and labels, nurturing young and diverse talent, developing the family of Associate Artists and working with Creative Learning to create music engagement opportunities for young people. In addition, he will contribute to the content strategy for the Southbank Centre’s digital platforms, expanding the reach of contemporary music nationally and internationally.

“Adem will play a pivotal role in not just leading on our incredible contemporary music programme, but also in how it speaks to our other artforms and connects with new audiences to ensure a rich and relevant programme in our venues and across our outdoor and virtual spaces,” adds Mark Ball, artistic director of the Southbank Centre. “With such a varied and deep knowledge of the music landscape, a commitment to championing diverse talent and an unwavering commitment to culture in all its forms, Adem will certainly take our world renowned gigs and series to the next level.”

Holness is a fellow of Clore Leadership, the Royal Society of Arts and PRS Foundation’s Power Up scheme, an initiative supporting Black music creators and industry professionals to address anti-Black racism and racial disparities in the music sector.

 


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New funding rounds announced in UK

Millions of pounds worth of further grants and loans have been made available in England and Scotland to help the UK live industry recover from Covid-19.

Arts Council England (ACE) has opened applications for a second round of repayable finance for culturally significant organisations in England.

The programme, which is part of the UK Government’s £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF), aims to support those organisations as they transition back to a ‘viable and sustainable operating model’ during the 2021/22 financial year.

The budget for the second round is up to £100 million and the minimum amount that can be applied for is £1m. The final round of CRF grants, totalling around £300m, are expected to open for applications in early January.

Organisations who have previously been awarded a CRF loan are not eligible to apply for further CRF loans, while previously successful grant applicants can.

Last week, the Government and ACE announced the first-round recipients of the repayable finance scheme which included London venues the Royal Albert Hall (£20.74m) and Southbank Centre, while Alexandra Palace (pictured) was awarded £2,967,600 from the £60m Capital Kickstart Fund. The latest grants and loans marked a milestone £1bn in funding allocated.

Elsewhere, the Scottish government has announced an extra £13 million to provide further support for the events sector in Scotland.

Of this, £6 million has been committed for the establishment of a new fund which will open this week to support those event businesses which are critical to Scotland’s events sector, and without which the capacity to deliver major events would be significantly reduced.

“This [£13m] will help hard-pressed businesses going forward and ensure that they are ready to support the recovery”

The Pivotal Event Businesses Fund will provide grants from £25,000 up to a maximum of £150,000 to support approximately 50 to 100 event businesses whose primary role as organisers, suppliers, contractors and venues is critical to the survival of the events sector in Scotland, and upon whom the wider events industry and supply chain are most reliant for their own business and operations.

The remaining funding will be used to set up a separate fund to provide broader support to businesses across the full range of the events sector, including the supply chain, and will be announced early in the new year.

The latest funding follows the £10 million announced by the culture secretary in July for the events industry, of which £6 million was allocated to the now-closed Event Industry Support Fund while £2 million was allocated to Scotland’s Events Recovery Fund currently being run by EventScotland.

“The events sector has faced severe challenges throughout 2020 as the restrictions necessary to contain the coronavirus pandemic have left most businesses unable to operate. While the arrival of a vaccine offers grounds for hope, the events sector and its wider supply chain will continue to experience difficulties for some time to come,” says culture secretary Fiona Hyslop.

“We were able to provide financial support for the events sector in the autumn but we have continued to listen and we acknowledge that further funding is required. This additional £13 million will allow us to help hard-pressed businesses going forward and ensure that they are ready to support the recovery when it is safe to operate again.

“Scotland has a well-earned reputation for delivering successful events at local, national and international level. We are working collaboratively with the industry to ensure that the sector has a future to look forward to and that we maintain our position as the perfect stage for events.”

 


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Final £400m on the way as latest CRF recipients announced

Historic London venues including the Royal Albert Hall, Alexandra Palace and Southbank Centre are among the beneficiaries of the latest round of Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) spending, as the scheme marks a milestone £1 billion in funding allocated.

The Royal Albert Hall (5,272-cap.) and Southbank Centre, along with organisations such as the English National Opera, Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre, were awarded a share of £165 million in low-interest repayable finance, with the Albert Hall receiving a total of £20.74 million from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Arts Council England (ACE).

Hall CEO Craig Hassall says the loan is a “lifeline” that will enable the Victorian arena “restore our minimum reserves and operating finances to a level comparable to before the pandemic struck”.

Elsewhere, a number of venues across the country are receiving grants from the £60m Capital Kickstart Fund. They include the Alexandra Palace, which has been awarded £2,967,600 to enable its 10,400-capacity Great Hall to “continue with a diverse programme of live, Covid-secure events this winter”, and new Manchester arts venue the Factory, which receives £21m towards its completion.

“As well as providing a multi-use space for diverse arts activity,” the Factory will be the permanent home for Manchester International Festival, “which attracts visitors to the city from across the country and creates opportunities for creative freelancers,” reads a statement from DCMS and UK culture minister Oliver Dowden CBE.

“The £1 billion invested so far through the Culture Recovery Fund has protected tens of thousands of jobs”

“Over the last nine months we’ve worked non-stop to make sure we can open the doors safely and keep the parkland well maintained to provide vital green space,” says Louise Stewart, CEO of Alexandra Park and Palace Charitable Trust. “There are many challenges ahead, but for now at least, thanks to this funding, we have some time and resource to deliver our route to recovery.”

The latest grants and loans come as the government makes plans to allocate the final £400 million of the £1.57 billion CRF. Further details of the final round, comprising £300m in grants and £100m loans to help companies “transition back to usual operating mode from April 2021”, will be announced shortly.

According to Dowden, some funding was held back in previous rounds (to enable authorities to assess the “changing public health picture”), and will also be made available to organisations at “imminent risk of collapse before the end of this financial year” in April.

“This government promised it would be here for culture, and today’s announcement is proof we’ve kept our word,” says the culture secretary. “The £1 billion invested so far through the Culture Recovery Fund has protected tens of thousands of jobs at cultural organisations across the UK, with more support still to come through a second round of applications.

“Today we’re extending a huge helping hand to the crown jewels of UK culture, so that they can continue to inspire future generations all around the world.”

More information about the CRF is available from the Gov.UK website.

 


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UK venues announce redundancies

Some of the UK’s most iconic venues have recently announced wide-reaching staff redundancies as the financial pressures of the Covid-19 shutdown continue to bite.

The news of sweeping staff layoffs in venues including the Southbank Centre and the Royal Opera House, come just as venues in England are finally given the go-ahead to reopen, albeit under restricted circumstances.

The announcements also come in the wake of the losses of well loved Manchester venues Gorilla and Deaf Institute last week, as well as VMS Live’s Hull venues the Welly and the Polar Bear.

London’s Southbank Centre, a multi-venue arts and culture complex including the 2,700-capacity Royal Festival Hall, is to make up to two thirds of its staff redundant, equating to around 400 roles.

The centre, which has previously warned it may be forced to close until at least April 2021 without the correct support, has already furloughed the majority of its 600 employees and pecits a deficit of £5.1m for the current financial year.

“It is with great sadness that the Southbank Centre announced that up to 400 roles have been put at risk of redundancy,” says a spokesperson for the venue.

The spokesperson says the cuts form part of a management plan designed “to stem the financial losses being incurred as a result of Covid-19, and to help safeguard the future of the UK’s largest arts centre.”

The news comes as the Royal Opera House (ROH) announces it is laying off its entire team of casual workers.

“It is with great sadness that the Southbank Centre announced that up to 400 roles have been put at risk of redundancy”

It is unclear how many jobs are affected, but the organisation has confirmed that all casual contracts have been terminated and a process of voluntary redundancies among other staff is already underway.

“It is with huge sadness that we have begun a restructure process,” reads a post on the ROH Twitter page. “The scale of financial pressure on ROH alongside continued restrictions on our ability to perform to live audiences, has resulted in this very difficult decision.”

The post adds that ROH’s director of music, Antonio Pappano, has forgone his salary since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, with the venue’s chief executive, Alex Beard, also taking a “significant reduction” in pay.

The National Theatre in London has also signalled its intention to proceed with around 400 redundancies among its casual staff base, including 250 front-of-house workers.

The Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), is another organisation to announce it is planning redundancies across its UK workforce.

ATG, which operates close to 50 venues worldwide including theatres Bristol Hippodrome, London’s Lyceum Theatre, Sunderland Empire, Manchester’s Palace Theatre and the Alexandra in Birmingham, as well as live venues Swansea Arena and the Stockton Globe, says layoffs may affect around 5% of its staff, predominantly those working in its head offices in London and Woking.

The operator has also said that while it zero-hours staff will continue to be supported by the government’s furlough scheme, arrangements beyond that have not been confirmed.

The wave of redundancies come despite the UK government’s recently announced £1.57 billion rescue package for arts and culture and a reduction in the value-added tax (VAT) levied on concert and event tickets, from 20% to 5%.

It remains unclear how the funds will be distributed across the sector.

Photo: Saval/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) (cropped)

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Music Venue Trust welcomes two new trustees

Music Venue Trust (MVT) has announced that Ellie Rowsell, lead singer of Wolf Alice, and Bengi Unsal, senior contemporary music programmer at the Southbank Centre, have joined the organisation as trustees, in a bid to further expand the board’s wide range of industry expertise.

Alongside the work of the existing eight trustees, MVT hopes the welcoming of Rowsell and Unsal will expand its consideration of both artist needs and the wider cultural background of the industry.

MVT acts on behalf of the some 440 independent and grassroots venues across the UK represented by the Music Venue Alliance. Speaking of the impact grassroots venues have had on her career, Rowsell admits: “Without independent, grassroots venues I’m not sure my band would be where we are today.

“They bring originality, equality, opportunity, character and spunk to the cities they reside in and now more than ever is the time to fight to keep them going!”

“These intimate spaces offer fans an unparalleled gig experience and provide bands an essential platform to be discovered.

Echoing Rowsell’s ideas of nurturing young talent, Bengi Unsal adds that small venues provide invaluable opportunities for emerging acts: “I am very aware of the crucial role the grassroots venues play in nurturing young talent in today’s competitive music industry.

“These intimate spaces offer fans an unparalleled gig experience and provide bands an essential platform to be discovered and to grow their audiences at the early stages of their career.”

The organisation has also announced the appointment of Sarah Thirtle as co-chair to the Trust. She will act alongside fellow co-chair Chris Prosser. On her new role, Thirtle says: “I am honoured and delighted to be asked to be the Co-Chair of the Music Venue Trust, alongside Chris Prosser.”

“There are numerous challenges facing grassroots small music venues. Our vision is for this sector to be valued, invested in and thriving, securing these vital cultural spaces for our towns and cities.”

The announcement of the new appointments at MVT follow a series of recent initiatives. 2018 has seen the organisation of several regional meetings across the UK for grassroots venue owners to exchange ideas, as well as the establishment of the Fightback: Grassroots Promoter scheme, designed to help young female promoters get their first chance with a share of a £100,000 grant.

 


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