Meet the Members
Beverley Whitrick – Strategic Director, Music Venue Trust
Most significant challenge: I am lucky in never having found public speaking daunting. As someone with the ability to offer a platform to others in the grassroots music industry, I regularly ask first time speakers to step forward and share their knowledge and experience. Many women lack confidence to take on this role, often suggesting men in their organisation who ‘might be more appropriate’. If I didn’t believe that each woman asked would be great, I wouldn’t have asked. Women in music, please have the faith in yourself that others have in you, grab opportunities that arise. The experience will usually be better than you fear; you might even enjoy it and look forward to the next time. You might also inspire another woman to speak up too!
Clara Cullen – Venue Support Manager, Music Venue Trust
A bit about you: My time at Music Venue Trust started as a volunteer at Venues Day 2017 and three years on I am now the Venue Support Manager. In this role, I manage MVT’s Crisis Service which provides professional support and guidance for grassroots music venues at risk of permanent closure. Recently I was named a MusicWeek ‘Rising Star’ and an ‘Unsung Hero’ in IQ magazine.
Greatest career success to date: Managing MVT’s Crisis Service throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020 I had 77 cases of threats to venues directly come into the crisis service from around the UK. I was able to get those venues the professional support and advice needed to help resolve threats of closure with a resolution rate of 88%. The remaining cases I am continuing to address and I am confident we will also be able to support those venues as well. Taking a very proactive, pragmatic, and practical approach is key to the success of the crisis service and a model that other organisations have now also adopted. I’m very proud that, in what has been the most critical year for grassroots music venues in a generation, the MVT Crisis Service has become a model of best practice and has had a genuine impact across the UK.
Most significant challenge: MVT submitted our first report to the Government on the impact of Covid on 9th March 2020 and our most recent at the end of February 2021. Keeping up with the pace of change in policy, responding appropriately so that our members get the advice and support needed, and ensuring that we keep the plight of venues in the public consciousness has been a huge challenge for a charity that still only has four full-time staff members but over 900 Music Venues Alliance members!
Women’s Day Shoutout: Shout out to all my amazing female colleagues and the MVT board members who are a force for ‘good trouble’ and long-term change in a music industry that often burns brightly but quickly with an obsession with profit margins and growth targets.
If you could make 1 change in how the music industry supports women, what would it be? Normalise women in the music industry actively negotiating their employment contracts from the get-go. Support them to do this so that they contain clauses that commit organisations to undertake professional development for their roles. Always ‘Ask The Damn Question’ as I can guarantee your male colleagues will.
Hopes for the future (for you or for women in music more generally): I would like to encourage and mentor more women so that they will get involved in running venues, booking shows, promoting gigs, photographing concerts, selling merch, being tour managers, becoming touring musicians and independent artists. The more women we have involved in our grassroots music venues then the healthier and more creative our sector will become.
Danni Brownsill – Central England Regional Coordinator, Music Venue Trust and In-House Promoter at The Sugarmill
A bit about you: I’m the regional MVA coordinator for Central England and the in-house Promoter at The Sugarmill in Stoke-on-Trent.
Most significant challenge: Promoting has traditionally been a very male-dominated field. When I started repping shows in 2008, I was often the only female working on the show, besides bar staff. Over the last few years, this has changed. There are more female artists, techs, tour managers etc than I’ve ever known and it’s really exciting to see more women in the industry. I can’t even remember the last time an old male tour manager winked at me and called me darling, and not everyone assumes I’d like to sleep with the band anymore – change is good!
Women’s Day Shoutout: Shout out to all the inspiring female agents, artists and my fellow ladies of Team MVT – you all inspire me every day and give me something to aim to be.
Sam Dabb – Wales Coordinator, Music Venue Trust and Manager/ Owner at Le Pub
A bit about you: I forced my way into the industry! I fell in love with live music aged around 15 and instantly knew that was it for me! I started a band, a management company, a promotions company and then eventually ended up working in Le Pub. My job in Le Pub is to oversee everything. I make sure we have enough beer, I make sure the rotas work, I clean toilets. It’s not all booking cool bands!
For Music Venue Trust my role is to help welsh venues through the Covid-19 pandemic and make sure they have any other help they need, too. I keep up to date with the welsh guidance and feedback any relevant information. I spent a lot of time helping venues with their bids to the Cultural Recovery Fund making sure everything was done correctly.
Greatest career success to date: Probably having myself and Le Pub nominated to speak at MVTs Venues Day in 2019. There’s been a few awards we’ve been nominated for too but I think being recognised by a sector I have so much respect for was a real highlight.
Most significant challenge: Moving the pub! Our lease ended and we decided to expand. We set up a community benefit society and moved to a much bigger place. Next year we hope to move into the upper floors so the challenge isn’t over yet.
Women’s Day Shoutout: My daughter. One of the reasons I was so determined to succeed, in what was very much a man’s world when I started out, was to show her that being a woman didn’t mean you couldn’t have the career you wanted and the life you wanted.
If you could make 1 change in how the music industry supports women, what would it be? I think more venues need to be welcoming for women. Dressing rooms with a cubicle for private changing, just a curtain would do. Not everyone wants to be naked together. Sanitary products on the rider, they may not be needing but simply putting them shows that women have been considered and are welcome. Lots of cheap, achievable little things rather than a massive thing that may be too difficult.
Hopes for the future (for you or for women in music more generally): I hope we get through this crisis and reopen every venue safely so that women can continue to thrive!