Former Agents’ Association president Jenny Dunster passes
Jenny Dunster, the veteran booking agent who twice served as president of the UK’s Entertainment Agents’ Association, has passed away following a battle with cancer. She was 71.
Born in Sheffield in December 1949, Dunster began her career as a dancer. After moving to London, she worked in theatre, television, film and corporate events, appearing at a number of the West End’s most prestigious venues, including the world-famous Talk of the Town (later the Hippodrome).
After retiring from dancing, she moved to entertainment agency work, first with Jill Shirley at Razzamatazz, where she represented Bucks Fizz when they won the Eurovision Song Contest. This was followed by a period working alongside Bunny Lewis at LJD Presentations, and then at Leisure Services Agency with Kenneth Earle, after which she launched her own agency, Whatever Artists Management, in partnership with husband Ray Millar.
Whatever Artists’ corporate clients included Virgin Atlantic and Coca-Cola, an event for the latter of which resulted in Dunster receiving the best entertainment award at the Special Event show 2011 in the US.
Her passion for dance and the arts continued throughout her life, and she was the booking agent for corporate events for several Strictly Come Dancing professionals, including Anton du Beke and Erin Boag.
Dunster joined the council of the Entertainment Agents’ Association 31 years ago, attaining the status of executive vice-president five years later, and in 2003 she became the body’s first female president (2003–05). A second presidential term at the association, then known simply as the Agents’ Association, followed in 2013–15.
“She was a powerhouse of integrity, intelligence and fun”
In a statement, the association describes Dunster as a “guiding light encouraging other women to join council. She was a staunch believer in the Entertainment Agents’ Association, rarely missing a monthly meeting, even after her cancer diagnosis. She was forthright and straight talking and was keen to ensure that the association stayed relevant through the many changes in the entertainment industry, ensuring integrity and enhancing its reputation.”
In addition to her work with the Agents’ Association, she also served on the Variety and Light Entertainment Council (VLEC) for over 20 years, alongside Equity and the Musicians’ Union. Christine Payne, former general secretary of Equity, comments: “She was a powerhouse of integrity, intelligence and fun.”
Jeremy Lee, of speaker agency JLA, sums up Dunster: “A great showbiz personality with a smile full of mischief.”
“Jenny was a great agent, considerate to artists and hirers alike,” says Bob James, president of the Entertainment Agents’ Association. “She had a great talent in finding unknown artists and bringing the best out of them by the time she brought them to the attention of the public.
“Artistic, considerate, caring and generous to a fault – one of the old school, with new ideas.”
The Associates: Tesder, TEAA, UK Music
Covid-19 has impacted every business sector around the world, but with live entertainment likely to be one of the last industries to return, given social distancing regulations, the associations that represent its millions of employees have never been more important.
As restrictions in many countries enter yet another month, for issue 91 IQ found out more about some of our association partners and discovered just what they are doing to help their members navigate and survive.
Following the last instalment with the PSA, Svensk Live and SMA, this time we check in with the Turkish Live Music Association, The Entertainment Agents’ Association and UK Music.
Turkish Live Music Association (Tesder)
The remit of the Turkish Live Music Association (Tesder) is to increase the value and credibility of the sector by creating and maintaining business standards for its members, who are typically concert promoters, venues and ticketing companies.
Tesder has around 50 members, which account for around 80% of the revenue in the local live music industry. Membership fees are equivalent to about €250 per annum, plus a registration fee of approximately €350.
Tesder works on a volunteer basis, and therefore relies on the ten leading companies in Turkey to dedicate members of staff to the association when needed.
As part of its measures during the pandemic, Tesder has helped to organise a government-financed digital concert series that included around 200 shows, thus helping both acts and their crews, as well as sound/lighting companies and other service providers to generate money.
The pandemic has allowed Tesder to effectively lobby politicians, and the organisation is currently working to achieve a 20% tax reduction on concert tickets (10% VAT reduction and 10% entertainment tax reduction), which will, in time, help remedy proposed new regulations on decreased show capacities.
Tesder is also working on a general Turkish live music sector insurance, which could involve partial government financing, like the country’s already compulsory earthquake insurance.
Tesder is working on a general Turkish live music sector insurance, which could involve partial government financing
The Entertainment Agents’ Association Ltd (TEAA)
The Entertainment Agents’ Association Ltd (TEAA) promotes and protects the interests of its 250 members throughout Great Britain, all of whom provide talent for the entertainment industry.
The annual fee for membership is £265 (€297) plus VAT, and all applications are reviewed by the Association’s National Council to ensure that they adhere to the required criteria and codes of practice. TEAA’s affiliate scheme costs £99.95 (€112.00) plus VAT per year.
Membership includes access to approved artist and sole agency contracts; suggested terms of business; information on compliance and GDPR; and regular updates that ensure agents continue to trade according to current legislation.
Since lockdown, all TEAA meetings have taken place virtually and the workload for councillors, all of whom are volunteers, has significantly increased as they ensure that members are up to date with government announcements, and national and regional initiatives as they happen.
The Association has introduced regular Zoom calls so that members can talk directly to council members and to one another. Virtual calls have included the Association’s accountant providing advice on what funding options are available to help members’ businesses survive.
The calls also help the Association identify areas where it needs to offer additional support, as well as helping to accumulate experiences first hand regarding problems as they happen relating to accessing loans or grants, or issues with contracts. This information can then be fed back to the government.
The Association has introduced regular Zoom calls so that members can talk directly to council members
UK Music is an umbrella body that represents the commercial music industry and the 190,000 people who work in the sector nationally.
Set up in 2008, it ensures that the collective voice of the industry is heard by government and other key stakeholders. It fights on behalf of its members for changes of benefit to the sector and its talent pipeline.
UK Music publishes widely respected research that outlines the £5.2billion (€58bn) annual contribution the industry makes to the UK economy.
Its members are: AIM, The Ivors Academy, BPI, FAC, MMF, MPA, MPG, The Musicians’ Union, PPL, PRS for Music, and UK Live Music Group.
UK Music is in constant dialogue with government to help the industry through the coronavirus crisis. It has successfully lobbied for a task force to help the sector combat the crisis’s impact; for an extension of the furloughing scheme; and for detailed talks about restarting the live industry.
UK Music has also helped co-ordinate a multimillion-pound network of hardship support schemes for those hardest hit by the pandemic.
It is co-ordinating working groups, including a Next Steps Group, to draw up a road map to help the industry emerge from the crisis.
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.